While locals celebrated all day with fun, food, and music at Jubilee Park in Bridgetown, it was the celebration in the evening that captured the enduring quality of the people who have lived beside that waterway for centuries.
“Certainly today we are proud Canadians, and today we celebrate an important milestone here in Bridgetown on the shores of the Annapolis River as we officially open the Bridgetown Jubilee Floating Dock,” said county recreation manager Debra Ryan at the official opening ceremonies in the evening. As part of that celebration a flotilla of five boats had arrived from downstream with flags to exchange at the new dock.
Premier Stephen McNeil watched them arrive.
“This country is much older than 150 years old, and those of us who live in this part of Canada recognize that the values it’s founded on began here over 400 years ago when Membertou welcomed Champlain at Port Royal,” said McNeil.
He said 400 years ago that river was the mode of transportation and the actual body of water upon which Membertou met and welcomed the French.
“It’s been part of the fantastic positive history of our country,” said McNeil. “It’s also been part of some of the negative parts of our history. As we celebrate Canada we also need to recognize some of the challenges we had.”
McNeil suggested that a similar dock behind the new high school upstream would bring more attention to the river and activity on it. He also praised Clean Annapolis River Project for its work to protect the river.
The floating dock was a project spearheaded by community member Murray Freeman, also a member of CARP. It was Freeman, along with Steve Campbell, who originally took the project to county council.
“This was an example of how projects are supposed to work,” said Annapolis County Warden Timothy Habinski who moments before cut a ribbon at the top of the gangway down to the dock. “This was a community development issue driven by the community and then supported by all three levels of government in partnership,” he said. “And in an incredibly short amount of time you’ve accomplished something beautiful of lasting quality to this community. I’m so proud of what we’ve done here.”
He said he expects more traffic on the river when a floating dock project is completed in Annapolis Royal linking the two communities.
Habinski also told the crowd it was a delight to be there to celebrate Canada Day with them.
“We have a lot to celebrate about being Canadian,” he said. “We could talk about our natural resources, the physical beauty of our country, the richness and diversity of our culture and our history, but to me the thing that I celebrate most, the thing that I think about most on Canada Day – and particularly this corner of Canada – is a culture that connects us. We are connected in this area by a culture of kindness and compassion. It is a distinctly Canadian ethic and I’ve never seen it more anywhere than I see it in this part of Nova Scotia. It’s what drew my family here. It’s demonstrated here on a daily basis, and it’s a beautiful thing. We look after each other.”
West Nova MP Colin Fraser was also at the evening celebration.
“This will be a new treasure for this community and link other communities on the Annapolis River and cause more people to want to come to this beautiful town and this beautiful area of this beautiful country,” Fraser said.
The project includes an 85-foot floating dock with four 16-foot fingers, a ramp, and staging deck all built by Bear River Plastic Welding. The staging area and pathway development was done free of charge by Spicer Construction. In all, the project came in at under $30,000.
Jubilee Park brought hundreds of people together throughout the day and well into the evening with a cake cutting by Fraser, McNeil, Habinski, and Freeman, along with 500 free cup cakes, and the fireworks at dusk.
There was entertainment and food throughout the day, plus dancers and bands at the gazebo. While rain threatened the fireworks, the BVFD set them off when the drops started falling and provided a good show – with double the usual amount.