MANITOULIN—It took the Harvest Glory Days judges a solid hour to drive around Manitowaning and to find and photograph all the homes, businesses and institutions decorated in the Harvest Glory Days Theme.
Further west, it took the judges of the friendly community competition a half hour to accomplish the same thing in the much smaller village of Silver Water where, once again this year, virtually every home, the community sign, the restaurant and post office were all decked out in the fall theme.
Last week, the week after the Thanksgiving weekend, was a superb week for the blue-ribbon panel of judges (the judges shall remain anonymous as has become the tradition, so that those individuals can slip in and out and around Manitoulin communities, highways and biways each fall in the search for Manitoulin Island’s best-decorated places) to enjoy the natural autumn beauty bestowed by nature as they checked out the man-made complementary touches to individual properties.
And so it is that, for the third year in a row, Manitowaning is the best autumn-themed large town while, for the second straight year, those who have bedecked Silver Water for the fall colour/autumn harvest theme have won for their community the distinction of best autumn-themed small town.
Both of these communities already have a large highway style sign attesting to this clear demonstration of community spirit, as previous winners have.
Both Silver Water and Manitowaning will receive a notice to add to their sign, announcing that they have held this title again in 2015. This is the prize The Expositor Office provides for the best decorated communities, in partnership with Beacon Images of Tehkummah.
Best Large Community
Best Small Community
The Harvest Glory Days autumn-themed decorating event is organized by The Manitoulin Expositor as a community service each year at this time. The objective is to set up a friendly rivalry among communities and, in so doing, encourage the communities to publicly decorate for both their own residents’ and their visitors’ enjoyment.
Communities, individual homes and businesses are encouraged to register the addresses where they have decorated so that The Expositor can publish a “Harvest Glory Days Tour Map” in the paper the week before Thanksgiving, to encourage people to get out and see what has been done. This is the third year for this endeavour and The Expositor Office is pleased to see it is catching on. While there were many more formal registrations this year, there were many others (more in fact) who didn’t register but got into the spirit of things and decorated in the Harvest Glory Day Theme.
This certainly includes the Manitoulin Streams organization that got to work this year and decorated its spawning fish viewing area on Bass Creek in Sheguiandah, just above the pickerel spawning creek it has rehabilitated, where visitors come to see the fish fighting their way up the stream in the spawning season.
Houses decorated for the season are always a welcoming sight. This year, one Wikwemikong home, that of Grant and Jean Oshkabewisens on Wikwemikong Way went all out. And it’s well worth a visit to Jason Thibault, a teacher who lives on White’s Point Road near Little Current. This year Jason got into the spirit of the season and not only did a great job decorating his own home but laid in supplies (hay bales, corn stalks, pumpkins) to sell to people on the lookout for this kind of outdoor décor.
The village of Kagawong is also well worth a visit where the annual scarecrow display in “Ontario’s Prettiest Village” has this fall been augmented by a whimsical series of brightly painted, slightly out-of-date bicycles whose bike baskets are festooned with fall’s natural bounty.
Kudos also to the all–rural municipality of Gordon/Barrie Island for once again sponsoring their fall-themed farm gate decorating event. A good example is right on Highway 540, past the turnoff to Barrie Island and the Gore Bay Manitoulin Airport, but about one kilometre before the bridge over the entrance to Lake Wolsey. It’s the Featherstone farm on the south side of the highway.
In Little Current, the Manitoulin Centennial Manor staff and volunteers went all out to decorate the front entrance (and the house on Robinson Street diagonally across from the Manor entrance is also worth a look).
The Sheguiandah First Nation has decorated its sign on Highway 6, across from the Trading Post store, and this theme of decorating community signs is echoed in Manitowaning; Little Current (the new large sign on Highway 6 at the Welcome Centre); Mindemoya (the highway 551 entrance); Gore Bay, where the bright new town sign near Manitoulin Transport is all decked out for the season; and, of course, Silver Water, where the town sign is aflame in fall colours.
All in all, Manitoulin has done a spectacular job of getting into the Spirit of Harvest Glory Days and not only in the two winning communities for 2015, but also little touches like Sarah and Mervin Bowerman’s house in Spring Bay, where every year their front yard gets a little craftier, and Harvest Glory Days and Hallowe’en décor co-mingle. (This year features a home-made foursome of witches stirring a poisonous brew in a cauldron fashioned from the family’s outdoor burner.)
There’s the big hay bale at the Little Current Valu-Mart cleverly spray painted to sport a face surrounded by “Harvest Glory,” and the Gordon/Barrie Island township office features an oversized, comfy looking chair fashioned from straw bales, complete with a straw cushion with “autumn” written on it.
There is Harvest Glory Days evidence all around us, everywhere.
Take a drive, enjoy as much of it as you can. Winter is, after all, coming.