Atlantic Canadian Olympic Kitchen Party
Arthur Spray visits the Atlantic Canada House on Vancouver’s Granville Island at the Olympics.
If there is something that can be said about Atlantic Canadians, it is that we throw one hell of a party, and everyone wants to come. What better place to show the rest of the country our hospitality than at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, BC, as the entire world comes to our doorstep to see who we are.
So it seemed on Monday, February 15, when Granville Island, a hub for arts and dinning, was flooded with people trying to get in to the Atlantic Canada House Kitchen Party for a series of events. All of the events were organized through a partnership with the four Atlantic provinces, and sponsored by the provinces’ liquor corporation along with the departments of as the Fisheries and Aquaculture from Nova Scotia, PEI and Newfoundland and Labrador.
The first event of the evening involved the best the East has to offer in music, with Sloan headlining with help from opening act the Stanfields. The lineup for both shows started hours before, and stretched well around the Public Market (which is the size of an aircraft hanger). People knew they would be entertained as the crowd braved the ubiquitous West (or is that East?) Coast rain.
Sloan packs ‘em in: crowds gather at the Atlantic Canada House on Vancouver’s Granville Island
The second event was Atlantic Canada on Deck. It was also the kick-off to Nova Scotia Day, a focus on the province, its businesses, centres for learning and culture. All the best and brightest were mingling and passing out business cards. The evening was meant to showcase the province and what it has to offer. Guests included International Trade Minister, Hon. Peter Van Loan as well as Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter.
Wine and cheese was available (and plenty of both), all served up by students and faculty from Nova Scotia Community College’s Sobey’s Culinary Centre, Culinary Arts Program at the New Brunswick Community College, Holland College’s Culinary Institute of Canada (PEI), and the College of the North Atlantic (NL). These students are serving and preparing all the food for Atlantic Canada House during the Olympics, and the menu is a seafood lover’s dream come true.
The evening felt more like a gathering in the home of a friend rather than a trade expo. People mingled and chatted freely with strangers. This was not the Vancouver I’ve spent the last 5 years getting to know, but a homecoming of sorts. Nova Scotia had reached the West Coast with its own special welcoming.
A perfect example of this was while I was talking with Shawn Fuller (Director of Communications, Office of the Premier of Nova Scotia) and Ian McKinnon (Rawlins Cross, Groundswell Music). It seemed Shawn played Junior Baseball with a number of guys I went to school with, while I shopped at the hardware store that Ian’s father ran in my hometown of Port Hawkesbury. It was the first thing we discussed as is the penchant of any East coaster: finding a connection to home.
Then it was down to business.
Ian was at the event to promote two of the artists on his record label, the Stanfields (winners of the Molson Canadian Nova Scotia Music weeks “Best New Artist” and “Best Recording” awards) and Thom Swift (who would also be playing on another day at the event).
Nova Scotia musician Geoff Livingston and filmmaker Neal Livingston
Also in attendance was filmmaker Neal Livingston, a resident of Mabou, who has two films on display during the Olympics. Michel in the Suête and Snow on the Lake are both part of the “Cultural Olympiad” which showcases the best our country has to offer through the visual and performing arts. As with most things Atlantic, it was a family affair, as Neal’s son Geoff Livingston would also be performing his music at an indoor venue later in the week.
The evening was capped off by a performance of DRUM! in the Art’s Club Theatre, Granville Island stage which was hosted by Newfoundland Comic and This Hour Has 22 Minutes alum, Shaun Majumder. Shaun entertained the audience with five minutes of standup before passing the mic to Premier Darrell Dexter who introduced the audience to DRUM!.
The musicians and dancers of DRUM! cover the historical fabric of Nova Scotian culture (Acadian, Mi’kmaq, Black, and Celtic). The show was a pounding of percussion and song stemming from and elaborating on the history of Nova Scotia from the first settlers, the expulsion of the Acadians, the underground railway, and the way people from vastly different backgrounds found common ground through music and culture. The show included multimedia and poetry highlighted by native poet Rita Joe’s “I lost my Talk”, which brought the audience to its feet.
Shows continue at the venue until the closing of the Olympics on February 28, which will include Ashley MacIsaac, The Trews, George Canyon, Grass Mountain Hobos, Lennie Gallant, and Hey Rosetta!, just to name a few.