The town I live in is a “summer town”. There are many of these special summertime haunts in Ontario. They are the places where “the summer people” come to stay for a few hours weeks or even a few months to enjoy the fleeting two months we in Canada call summer. This year the temperatures have soared and the people came earlier and may be leaving a little later but no matter how you cut it when school starts the day after Labour Day, summer is over.
As I strolled along the pier with hundreds of others on Monday evening I remembered summers past when the beach would have been empty at 6:30 pm on Labour Day. People carefully packed up the kids and closed the doors on the cottage seldom returning except maybe on Thanksgiving to drain the pipes and put up the shutters.
Now the shopkeepers claim the transition from summer to winter is not quite as distinct as it was in years long ago. More people linger a few days. The stores are busier and the eateries are still hoping.
In 1966 when I was babysitting the Knechtel kids in their home behind the booth on the beach it seemed we could have rolled up the sidewalk on Labour Day and not many people would notice. My last day was the Sunday because it would be quiet on the beach strip all day Labour Day. Only the locals would be around.
As a matter of fact, Labour Day was the day the locals reclaimed their town in a way. We existed but stayed low in the summer except for our work. On Labour Day we could finally emerge and walk the beach again without fear of cotton candy in our hair or cigarette burns on our bare feet. We could sit on the pier and watch seagulls and tug boats while eating french fries without having to fight for a parking spot. We could be sure we would know almost everyone we would meet on the sidewalk. The town was ours again until the migration inundated us again on the 24th of May weekend.
It was interesting to watch the new Labour Day in Port Dover with all its business and noise but I couldn’t help but think, like Earl Hartlen did when he posted this lovely picture on his Facebook page, “It’s Over.”