Salute

It is the August long weekend as I write this. In normal times that would mean Capreol Days would be in full swing—people flocking to town, events and festivities crowding our downtown, and a good time being had by all. Unfortunately, 2020 has been an ‘off’ year. Most public gatherings have been cancelled and, all across Canada, much-beloved celebrations are being postponed. 

We’ve spent months distancing from each other, obsessively washing our hands, and, despite the discomfort, wearing masks. Every one of those precautions are both reasonable and necessary. Quarantine is not fun. Nor is it meant to be. We isolate because it is one of the few effective weapons in our collective arsenal to fight CoVid-19. 

Despite Canada’s relative successes in ‘flattening the curve’ most of us are growing increasingly frustrated by the pandemics many hardships. Adjusting to the long-term reality of this virus it is all-too easy to lose sense of why we’re all putting ourselves through this.

For me there are two reasons to stay close to home: courtesy and community.

The first, courtesy, is a quintessential Canadian trait and one I make a conscious effort to emulate. Being kind and polite are goals we should aim toward. None of us can manage this 100% of the time but in making the attempt we elevate ourselves and those around us. Respect and manners never go out of fashion. Given the stresses we’re all currently feeling, a modicum of courtesy goes a long way. Think of it as the grease for society’s gears.

Which leads to the second reason, community. I could have said ‘family’ or even ‘patriotism’ and argued those almost as effectively. Community is, however, a more inclusive term. You can join or leave a community, there are all sorts of communities to choose from, and, best of all, there are no limits as to the number we can claim to be a part.

As a courtesy to my community I want to remind everyone that we are all in this together. And, since there is no better way to rally people than with a symbol, it’s time to rally around the literal flag.

Not Canada’s flag though. We’re focussing on a much smaller and tighter-knit community flag: Capreol’s.

There are dozens of things that make Capreol unique. The one that surprises newcomers to town most is our flag. Often overlooked by residents, our flag conceived, designed, and brought into fruition by one man—Mayor Harold Prescott—is a marvel. Rarely do communities as small as ours have their own flags, let alone one this striking.

Unfurled for the first time more than fifty years ago, back when our town only had 2,000 residents, Capreol’s now-iconic flag has flown proudly ever since. You could hardly venture through town during our hugely successful Centennial (2018) without seeing the blue and gold banner on prominent display.

The flag’s grand reveal proved a big deal in 1968, bringing out a crowd despite wet weather. Political bigwigs gathered. People cheered. And the city newspaper reported it as follows:

Capreol, Sept. 1968: The railway town of 2,000 celebrated its 50th anniversary Monday in the rain. All the events took place as scheduled but the rain reduced the number of spectators. The day began with a memorial service sponsored by Capreol Branch 179 of the Royal Canadian Legion. At 2 p.m. the town flag was raised for the first time at Prescott Park on Bloor St. Mayor Harold Prescott reserved the honor of raising the flag himself.

Beaver, Maple
It was at Prescott’s instigation that the flag was designed and purchased. It consists of a brown beaver on a gold maple leaf against a blue background. Capreol is spelled down the staff end of the flag. A good-sized crowd turned out for the flag-raising, and the Capreol Legion Drum and Bugle Corps took part. Mayor Merle Dickerson of North Bay also took part in the ceremony. The baseball game between two teams of the town league lasted only two innings, before it was called on account of rain.

So, when next the quarantine gets you down, go take a drive around town and know that every Capreol flag you see flapping is another citizen who believes in this, OUR community. Spare a moment and think on how special our town truly is. We are, to borrow a phrase first coined by Mayor Dave Kilgour, ‘The little town than could.’ And, if you’ll forgive the grammatical butchery, Capreol will keep on coulding no matter what.

Be kind, be safe, and be proud.

Posted on: August 2, 2020, by :