The Great Canadian Picnic in Phoenix Celebrates 57th Year

great-canadian-picnicThis year’s Great Canadian Picnic takes place on February 9th from 11:00am to 3:00pm at South Mountain Park at 10919 S. Central Avenue in Phoenix (Take Central Avenue south of Baseline Road into the park).  The picnic is free to the public and is filled with great Canadian Culture, fun and personalities.  Let’s hope this year’s weather is better than last year’s cold and rain, although it’s not like Canadians can’t tough out a little rain.

The first Great Canadian Picnic took place in 1953 and was the inaugural event of the newly formed Canadian Social Club of Greater Phoenix.  The club was started by Vic & Rita Wallace after they relocated to Phoenix from Thamesford, Ontario, Canada in 1953 on the advice of Vic’s doctor, due to his acute asthma from working at the Wallace Lumber Mill.

Once arriving in the Valley, Vic & Rita began a quest to find other Canadians who had relocated to the Valley (many due to respiratory ailments and arthritic conditions).  What the Wallaces found was that many of their countrymen suffered from homesickness and isolation.  So the Canadian Social Club of Greater Phoenix was formed to bring these newcomers together.  During the 50’s & 60’s it was a great source of support for the transplants from Canada.

Over 500 people attended the first Great Canadian Picnic.  This year, with an estimated 92,000 full time Canadian residents in Arizona and over 500,000 Canadian winter visitors, attendance is expected to top 3000.

I feel a special connection with Canadians as my dad was born in Van Buren, Maine on the US/Canadian border and my grandpa worked as a Border Officer.  Visits to dad’s hometown of Calais always included visits to Canada and many of my grampa’s neighbors were Canadians.

So to all my Canadian friends…Enjoy this year’s picnic.  It’s bound to be a great time, eh?  For sure.