/COVID summer: The sequel

COVID summer: The sequel

By Chad Ingram

While the official start to summer may be a month away, it unofficially commenced with the Victoria Day weekend. 

The May long weekend is of course the traditional kickoff to cottaging season in the county, but the last year has been the furthest thing from typical. While many seasonal residents may just be getting back into the county, many have been here for weeks or months, and some have been here virtually from the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thousands of extra people in the community has been an undeniable boon for some businesses – namely those largely unaffected by provincially mandated economic shutdowns. Ask the owner of a local grocery store, gas station or department store how the last year has been, and chances are they’re going to tell you it’s been record-setting.

Talk to a restaurateur or the owner of a retail operation that sells less essential items, and they’re likely to have a very different story. Certainly whenever the current lockdown is eased – which, best case, is mid-June  – we need to do our best to direct some cash toward these businesses.

For the second consecutive summer, most of the usual hallmarks of the season in the county will be absent. Most large events and festivals were cancelled by organizers months ago with the understanding the virus would again prohibit us from gathering in groups. We’ll once again be able to visit the county’s farmers’ markets and the County of Haliburton is planning a stripped-down version of the Hike Haliburton Festival for September, as long as provincial regulations allow it proceed.

To say it’s been a long 14-and-a-half months is an understatement. We continue to run a proverbial marathon where the finish line is unclear. We’ve come a long way, but still have an unknown distance to travel. We’ve all experienced an enormous amount of emotional stress since last March. We’re tired, we’re irritable, we’re ready for it to be over. Townships are experiencing high levels of bylaw complaints, meaning neighbours are getting cranky with one another. But we are getting there. 

The Victoria Day weekend marked a vaccination milestone, with more than half of Canadians now having received their first dose. Many of us should have our second doses by the time fall arrives. Hopefully next summer we can once again file into the Northern Lights Pavilion for the Highlands Summer Festival, go to the fair, or dance along Water Street at Music by the Gull.

While these may now seem like memories from another time, they are also visions of things to come.