Roxanne Tellier – A Canadian Summer

january roxanneThere is something so uniquely .. well, Canadian … about how we as a country approach the season of summer.

This year, the majority of us, bruised and battered by the wickedly fierce winter weather, are cautiously optimistic that the sun will again rise over weather summer 2014the commonwealth. In fact, the big headline in the Toronto Sun on June 3rd was “Weather Network chief meteorologist Chris Scott said everyone can expect a “fairly pleasant summer.”  Can’t get more cautious or Canadian than that, eh?

so wrong summerThe smell of urban  and suburban barbecues scent the air, replacing the smell of wood burning fireplaces.  But we’ll keep our winter coats and boots handy, often well into June, “just in case.”

By the time we’ve officially finished rolling up the rim at Tim Hortons, we’re beginning to make runs to The Beer Store, stocking up on our other official beverage. We like to launch summer with that most Canadian of holidays – May Two Four.

patio umbrellasWe crave the kiss of a summer sun,  but we cringe from it’s deadly rays. Umbrellas pop up on patios and apartment terraces, and Canadian Tire gazebos beckon from summer lawns. And yet,  you can pretty well count on most office workers coming into work on the Monday after our first scorcher weekend with a painful sunburn.

Couples wander hand in hand through lawned parks, and sandy beaches. Music blares from pubs and bars, as windows and doors are flung wide. We take to the streets for community festivals, enjoying the sounds of touring professionals and street corner buskers. Any win by any sports team guarantees a spontaneous parade somewhere in the city.

In Toronto, Kensington Market closes its streets to cars on the last Sunday of each month, beginning in May, and bands play outdoors in front of most entertainment venues. Wandering through the people clogged streets, you’ll hear everything from reggae to jazz, rock to folk, and the music of Europe and the Orient.

Toronto tradition lures us to the sandy beaches that follow the lake around the city, from Oshawa to Mississauga. Our Waterfront Trail stretches even further, connecting communities from Windsor and Lakeshore on Lake St. Clair to the Quebec border, following the shores of Lake Erie, Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River.


Young and old, we flock to the waterfront parks, that lure us with the promise of a cool breeze, and jazz, pop and country music festivals, showcasing top Canadian and international talent. Rain or shine, you’ll find us gathered on the sand or the grass, comfy on our Hudson’s Bay blankets, grooving to the beat under our handy sun/rain shelters.

Wards Island cottage

We’ll also make a pilgrimage by ferry to the Toronto Islands, where we can gawk at the little cabins, and enjoy the largest urban car-free zone in North America, ride the Scrambler at the Centreville Amusement Park, or titter at the sun bathers on Hanlon’s Point ‘clothing optional’ beach.

You can pretty much count on Mayor Rob Ford not showing up for the WorldPride 2014 celebrations, whether or not he’s finished up his “rehab.” From June 20 to the 29th, Toronto Pride will host over 1.2 million of Toronto’s LGBTTIQQ2SA communities, and celebrants from all over the world.  There are ten days of fabulous events, and incredible music to be heard.

“Headlining the opening ceremonies in Nathan Phillips Square (June 20) is ground-breaking and Grammy Award winning powerhouse, Melissa Etheridge, and home town favourite, Deborah Cox, in a co-production with the TD Toronto Jazz Festival and the City of Toronto. k.d. Lang takes the stage at the WorldPride Awards Gala (June 25) in support of Camp fYrefly. Hundreds of artists perform over 10 full days, including: “The Original Weather Girl”, Martha Wash (Forecast? “It’s Raining Men!”); Hercules and Love Affair, Crystal Waters, Neon Hitch, and Chely Wright.  (

July 1, we’ll celebrate Canada Day, from sea to shining sea. Every province will have festivities, but it is in Canada’s capital, Ottawa, Ontario, that the most holiday activities will occur, with events, activities, and festivals to be found throughout the city, culminating in a massive fireworks display launched from Parliament Hill.

Oh yes, there will be fireworks and baseball games at the SkyDome – whoops, that’s now called the Rogers Centre –  Caribana and The Ex, Farmer’s Markets and berry picking. muskoka chairsGardens will be planted, and the seedlings and new plants nurtured until it’s time to reap the benefits of our hard work, and enjoy the bounty.

We’ll load up the cars and minivans with the kids and our relatives, not forgetting to bring the beer, edible delicacies, ice, flimsy beach towels, snorkels, flippers and a little summer beach reading material, and head off to Muskoka, or Bobcageon, or Peterborough.

The more adventurous will head out for wilder summer entertainment, kayaking, canoeing, and portaging in the national parks. Some of us will travel to other cities and towns across Canada, in search of our families, our roots, or just another perspective on our beautiful country.

There will be endless dandelions to pluck from the lawns which we will endlessly mow. And eventually, even our tanned children will begin whining that there’s “nothing to do.” Which will be at the beginning of August, just as Wal-Mart starts advertising their “back to school” sales, and even the most hardcore summer lover giggles over this Staples commercial.

Summer in Canada. Short and sweet. Enjoy the Ribfests and the black flies, the dreamy summer nights and the face plant into the lake from your Sea-Doo, the fireworks and the backed up holiday traffic jams that turn the Parkway into a parking lot. Enjoy every moment, good and bad, because … We Are Canadian ….

= RT =

Roxanne’s column appears here every Sunday 

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DBAWIS ButtonRoxanne Tellier has been singing since she was 10 months old … no, really. Not like she’s telling anyone else how to live their lives, because she’s not judgmental, and most 10 month olds need a little more time to figure out how to hold a microphone. After years of doing things she didn’t want to do, she’s found herself working with a bunch of crazy people who are as batshit crazy and devoted to music as she is, and so she can be found every Monday at Cherry Cola’s, completely unable to think of anything funny to say, as the co-host of Bob Segarini’s The Bobcast. Come and mock her. She’s good with that. And she laughs. A lot. But not at you.

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