Adventure #51: Savour a Slice of Summer at the Strawberry Social
One summer day in 1976, the staff and volunteers at Joseph Brant Museum held their first Strawberry Social on the museum grounds as a way to bring the community together while raising funds. That day, more than 500 people turned out for ice cream and berries. Now, the tradition lives on over 35 years later.
The annual Strawberry Social has become a Canada Day tradition for our family. After all, what better symbol of Canada is there than sweet, red, juicy berries draped over cold, indulgent white vanilla ice cream?
The morning began with the arrival of another fitting symbol for our nation. Canada’s Musical Ambassadors marched into the yard donning, of course, their famous red coats.
Led by our Canadian flag, the Burlington Teen Tour Band played a stand-still performance. Drum Major Chris Harrison (who we met in Adventure #26) conducted the band.
From one group of redcoats to another, a group of soldiers took to the field for a War of 1812 live fire re-enactment.
Oyez! Oyez! Oyez! Our Burlington Town Crier, David Vollick, introduced the day’s events.
David’s path to the city stage is an interesting one. Back in 2011, he asked the City of Burlington to establish the post of “official town crier” and city council agreed to host a competition. Turns out, he was the only one to compete and he won his dream (volunteer) job!
A Royal Canadian Mounted Police officer in full dress uniform was also circulating through the crowd during the event. This was a photo op I had to be a part of!
Soon Hotsy Totsy took the stage with their focus on ’20s, ’30s and ’40s music. Like David the town crier, they too turned their passion for a unique period of history into a way to entertain Burlington residents. They first performed last year at the Queen’s Jubilee Mother’s Day Royal Tea at Ireland House Museum and have since appeared at a number of Museum and City events.
The Turning Pointe Dance Studio followed with a variety of dance performances by young Burlingtonians.
The Sutler Cyrus Side Show had a “Rootin’ Tootin’ Shootin’ fun” game setup that kids could play for free. Each child was offered three shots with an elastic rifle to knock down three tin cans. Whether successful or not, there was a prize every time (just what every parent loves)!
With a ring of the bell, Jr Burlington was awarded multiple rounds of “Cartridge Candy.” Catridge Candy is a musket cartridge, filled not with black powder and a lead ball, but fruit powder and a gumball!
Nearby, we saw plenty of museum volunteers hard at work slicing beautiful, plump red strawberries. I don’t know what their secret is, but they coat their berries in some sort of magic elixir that makes them irresistible!
Special thanks goes to Caffé Demetre in the Cineplex Odeon Plaza across from Costco. They supplied enough of their famous homemade honey-vanilla ice cream to feed hundreds of hungry strawberry lovers.
When we went through the line, we were pleased to be served by a few local celebrities including our Councillor, Paul Sharman, and Sylvia Hentz, the museum’s Special Events Programmer. Scooping all that hard-packed ice cream is a hard job so I really have to hand it to these volunteers for their service.
Look at that giant scoop of berries! Yum, I can taste them now.
Even the pioneers love the Strawberry Social! The folks from Fair Tyme Toys enjoyed strawberries and ice cream while watching over their unique 18th century toys and games table. Their fair booth was full of period toys and they encouraged children (of all ages) to play with them, experiment, issue challenges, ask questions etc. It was hard to get Jr Burlington to leave their booth — but the neat thing was the proprietors didn’t mind one bit! What a great addition to the events of the day.
There were even more great things happening inside Joseph Brant museum! July 1st was the debut of the museum’s new exhibition, “Burlington Heroes: Honouring 200 Years of Our Military Heritage”.
Highlighted are the military contributions of local veterans and organizations as well as the major military events that Canadians contributed to around the world.
The other exhibition receiving a lot of interest was “Mapping Burlington:
A View From Here.” This gallery takes visitors on a journey of Burlington as told through the art and
science of map making. The featured maps focus on the history of the growth and development of the city and the variety of information that can be found about the area — if one knows where to look.
Upstairs is the Joseph Brant Exhibit Hallway featuring Burlington’s most famous resident, Joseph Brant ‘Thayendanegea’. Here, portraits examine the many faces of Joseph Brant and a number of his personal objects are on display, highlighting his importance and status during his lifetime.
Included here is Brant’s silver gilt neckpiece (or gorget) presented to him by King George III in 1776. In 1968, the community of Burlington came together to acquire this important piece of Canadiana with a bid of $13,000 at a Sotheby’s auction. When the group of Burlington citizens returned with the gorget in hand, the town was jubilant in their victory!
Back outside, the cover band Prime took to the stage to keep up the festive mood.
The museum’s famous Trifles and Treasures market was back featuring all kinds of second-hand household goods including a large selection of books.
The nearby Silent Auction table offered a chance to bid on a variety of gift baskets donated by volunteers and local businesses.
A marketplace of vendors was setup in a portion of the hospital parking lot.
We also found the militia encampment occupied by the soldiers we had seen earlier marching around the field.
These re-enactment soldiers were now busy demonstrating daily life during the of War of 1812 and showing off their weapons.
A big thank you to all of the staff and volunteers of the Museums of Burlington for keeping this special summer tradition alive for so many years. It’s a true highlight of summer for our family and for many other families in Burlington I imagine also.
Coming up next from the Museums of Burlington is the Joseph Brant Day Festival, an annual event at Lasalle Park on Civic Holiday Monday. This day will include more re-enactments, a military skirmish, encampments and other historically interpreted activities and events as well as native culture interpretation, traditional artisans and tradesmen and military groups, all of which have been tremendously popular with event guests over the years! We’ll see you there!