St. Joseph Park: Breakfast and a local history lesson

18 Aug

mainBy Diva Shari Parsons

ST. JOSEPH – Golden sunshine, golden pancakes and golden maple syrup – what more could a person ask for? All of these and more were available at the Breakfast in the Park in the small community of St. Joseph Just north of Grand Bend on Highway 21.

This summer event is organized by the St. Joseph & Area Historical Society and takes place in the shady St. Joseph Memorial Park on the corner of Bluewater Highway and Hensall/Zurich Road. All proceeds from the breakfast go towards the maintenance of the park.

16-month-old Brinley from Zurich enjoys breakfast with her grandmother.

16-month-old Brinley from Zurich enjoys breakfast with her grandmother.

The breakfast menu featured ruby red strawberries and juicy, freshly sliced cantaloupe, hot scrambled eggs, thick sausages fresh off the “barbie”, and golden pancakes that could be drizzled (or drowned) in sweet, golden maple syrup. To quench your thirst, there was hot coffee and cold juice. All of this was served with smiles and friendly banter. The cost was a “Free Will Offering”, which I thought was a great idea and easy on the pocket book.

You could take your heaping plate and sit at one of the many tables and chairs that had been set up under canopies or make use of one of the park’s picnic tables. It was nice to look around and see singles, couples, families, young and not so young enjoying one another’s company in these pleasant surroundings.

As its name suggests, the park is a memorial to St. Joseph, who is the patron saint of Canada. The park features a statue of St. Joseph holding Baby Jesus. The exact spot for the location of the statue was chosen by Brother Andre (now known as St. Andre of Montreal) in 1917, however, the memorial did not get built until 1972.

The park also features a memorial to Brother Andre of St. Joseph’s Oratory in Montreal. He was famous for his good works among French Canadians and was credited with thousands of reportedly miraculous healings.

IMG_2341The park is also dedicated to the memory of the French Canadians who left Quebec in the early part of the 19th century and settled in the area now called St. Joseph, the only French settlement between Windsor and Midland. A Heritage Walkway contains the names of many of those original families, names such as Masse, LaPorte, and Cantin, with perhaps the settlement’s most famous citizen being Narcisse Cantin, aka “The Father of the St. Lawrence Seaway”. There are also a number of plaques situated along the walkway, which provide some very interesting local historical facts and pictures.

The St. Joseph & Area Historical Society works hard to collect and preserve the local history and has created a wonderful website.

Its Breakfast in the Park is a nice outing for the family where you can fill your tummies with yummy food and your heads with some interesting local history.

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