Matt Minglewood has played in Pugwash on Canada Day several times.

Where the stage is about to be replaced, it seemed appropriate to have his band come to Pugwash again as a farewell to the old building. Music on Eaton Stage starts at 5 p.m. with the Matt Minglewood Band headlining at 8 p.m.  They will play until the fireworks are set off at about 10 p.m.

This year marks the 67th anniversary of the Gathering of the Clans. The event started in 1951 to raise funds to build and maintain a hospital. Sixty-seven years later, the Village of Pugwash is preparing to build a replacement medical facility and as a community we need to help raise funds to do this. The Gathering of the Clans is also a community fundraiser for other non-profit groups, such as the Pugwash District Fire Department and Pugwash Ground Search and Rescue.

As July 1 falls on a Sunday this year, all competitions and events are moved to July 2. This is a long-standing tradition. The 2 km long parade starts at 10 a.m., and includes local RCMP, fire trucks from Pugwash and surroundings fire departments, floats, walkers, marchers, riders and motorized vehicles from local organizations, and businesses, pipe and drum bands, individuals, vintage vehicles, animals, and children. In order to have enough time for the pipe and drum band competitions and heavyweight games, the parade is in the morning. Due to the layout of the village streets, the Canada Day parade route includes Church Street, which includes churches that hold regular services on Sunday mornings.  The churches do not have car parks, so congregation parking includes Church Street. Thus, to avoid congestion and disruption to services and the residents of the village, and to have time for all participants to complete their competitions, the festival is moved to July 2. This changed format has worked for residents, competitors, and all other participants for 67 years.

Early arrivals can enjoy a sausage and pancake breakfast at the Pugwash fire station just east of the village limits at 11057 Route 6, from 8 to 9:30 a.m. The gates open at 8 a.m. to the Highland Dance competition, vendor village, midway and other activities. The parade starts at 10 a.m., and has a theme this year of “In and About Northumberland Strait”.

In the evening, thousands of people come back to the village to sit in Eaton Park and surrounding areas to watch the biggest Canada Day fireworks display in the county go off over Pugwash Harbour. Many others watch from their back yards, cottages, vehicles, or boats. There is no easy way to make an accurate count of spectators, but it is estimated several thousands of people come to Pugwash to enjoy Canada Day and the beginning of summer fun on the shores of the Northumberland Strait.

Lisa Betts is the 2018 Gathering of the Clans coordinator.