Day 6

breakfast The View Restaurant (located at the Delta Waterfront Hotel) go 
From our 8th floor window we look out to the southwest and see : St Mary’s River, the Boardwalk, International bridge, Power Station, paper mill. Lots of activity down there – we want to join in. But breakfast first. Impatient, we choose the Breakfast Buffet  – convenient and ready-to-go. Good choice – healthy variety and a whole carafe of coffee to jolt us into action.

From our window seats (in the aptly named VIEW restaurant) we see people on the boardwalk, watch river traffic and spy on the USA just across the river. This is CANADA DAY (equivalent to USA 4th of July) so people are arriving early to enjoy a full day of activities and stake out prime spots for the fireworks display. The fireworks will be set off from a river barge parked across from our hotel which makes this a great place to see it all. A clear night and full moon are expected.

10 am tour Sault Ste Marie riverfront go
St. Mary’s River boardwalk is a flurry of activity. 100 years ago King George V incorporated this city adding a Centennial celebration layer to the party. The scene: strolling people dressed in Canadian red/white clothing combinations to honor their flag, kids in strollers wave the maple leaf flag, helmeted bikers pedal slowly by, every outdoor cafe table jammed full. Zany excitement apparent. Teens really go all out for this Canadian Holiday – even paint the maple leaf flag on face!

We’re headed for the main party place: Roberta Bondar Park Tent Pavilion. Picnic tables are maxing out. Music from the tents add to the joy of the day. These structures were built to honor Canada’s first astronaut. 20 years ago Dr. Roberta Bondar, a Sault native, orbited in space shuttle Discovery for 8 days becoming the first Canadian woman in space. At the time, Sault St. Marie faced potential economic upheaval that put thousands of residents out of work (due to possible closure of it’s steel mill). Her space flight lifted community spirits and became an area turning point. Now retired and living in The Soo, she is a civic leader, local hero, acclaimed artistic talent (photography) and inspiration to area youth.

The Norgoma, last passenger boat to travel on the Great Lakes when communities along the north shore of Lake Huron depended on her regular visits to sustain them, is now a museum ship docked at St. Mary’s River Marine Heritge Center. Open today she’s been taken over by young would-be seaman who check out all her parts.

noon lunch Docks Riverfront Grill go
The nautically themed restaurant is packed for lunch. The veranda with direct water view is desirable if you can get a table. A 10″ tall hamburger is going by. Tempting, but how to eat? Hoping to get a clue from the nearby patron to whom the tower is delivered we watch intently. No fair, he’s taking the burger apart to make it biteable. What a cheater. We order salad. The lawn below the veranda is set up with rows of chairs for tonight’s visual display. Finally, we see a moose! Life size statue, that is.

1:30 pm visit Art Gallery of Algoma, A Gem in the Wilderness go 
We’ve come to the Gallery for a painting lesson but before entering, visit the outside Elsie Savoie Sculpture Garden. They’ve a collection of Canadian and American contemporary sculptures. Inspiring setting for this art. American sculptor, Hayden Llewellyn Davies’ well known piece, “Algoma Blue”, lends itself to play and the children are making hay. A key cultural destination not to be overlooked when visiting.

Inside we meet Director Jasmina Jovanovic who plans to catapault the Gallery to stardom in the next few years. The Gallery is the only collecting public art gallery between Thunder Bay and Sudbury. Its impressive Permanent Collection of over 5,000 artworks includes paintings, sculptures, photographs, drawings, installation works and decorative arts. Like the “The Little Engine That Could”, the Gallery aims to become the premiere cultural institution in Northern Ontario for the visual arts, a gathering place celebrating and preserving cultural expression. They’ll do it.

We tour three galleries with Michael Bennardo. He and three fellows completed Algoma University’s Fine Arts Program. Their work is on display. Picasso said,”Inspiration exists – but it has to find you working”. The work here meets that standard, seems to be based on sustained personal engagement with material and process, but driven by personal artistic inspiration.

It is immediately apparent by color and form – Taimi Poldmaa’s landscape paintings are influenced by the Group of Seven – altho she uses brighter color and makes more of natural patterns. We recognize the setting for one of the paintings – the estuary – where yesterday we paddle boarded! In the last gallery Michael Burtch (our Group of Seven expert guide) has a 3-dimensional piece on display. His very moving original work use repetition to express concept.

Our painting lesson a la the Group of Seven takes place in the Education Room. We select a “7” landscape to reproduce,  get a large really heavy watercolor paper and with direction, begin. We learn so much and work intently for almost 3 hours. The experience is lots of fun. We each have a perfect souvenir of this day. Not bad art either.

7 pm dinner The View go 
Back at The View we enjoy recalling the day over a wonderful dinner. The energy around us escalates as more people flow into the viewing area. There’s still time to walk and take in Canada Day festivities. Many crowded pleasure boats are cruising in the river below. Some as small as a rowboat for two, some party boats with a dozen or more onboard. A full moon reflects in the water as darkness deepens. The International Bridge, with a “50” added this year to celebrate its 50th anniversary, is aglow. Police boats scatter the party boats so the show can begin. For 20 minutes there are loud and beautiful explosions accompanied by a symphony of Ohh’s and Ahh’s.  Suddenly  its over, but we’re all happy to have been here and been part of the celebration.

stay Delta Waterfront Hotel go 
Back in our room we check the view from our window. A line of red tail lights is snaking down the shore road. Party’s over and everyone is going home. Our last night has come too soon. The Soo is so unique and we did not get to do all there is – but what we did do – we really enjoyed. 

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Day 6 photos