Monday February 20th was a statutory holiday in Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. In this province it has been designated Family Day and merchants of Sparta invited families to visit the for free family fun with colouring, games, and free draws at participating businesses. The Sparta Tea Room also offered a free hot dog to children whose families stopped into the restaurant for lunch.
Family Day this year is followed by “Pancake Tuesday”. Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday, referring to the practice of indulging before Lent. It’s also known as Shrove Tuesday (associated with confessions before Lent in the Christian tradition) or Pancake Tuesday as pancakes have become the traditional indulgence before fasting (or maybe just a tradition without the fasting) in many countries. Carnival is an extended celebration ending on Mardi Gras, famous in cities such as Rio de Janeiro, Barranquilla, Port of Spain and New Orleans.
The Ontario Maple Syrup Producers Association offers recipes for German Puff Apple Pancakes, Oatmeal Pancakes & All-Time Favourite Pancakes.
While children visiting Sparta on Monday would likely have been focused on the novelty of a village outing, parents may have noticed Sparta’s historical charm. That appreciation would have been appropriate as Monday February 20th kicked off Heritage Week in Ontario. In September 2005, the Ontario Heritage Trust assumed responsibility for the planning and leading of Heritage Week on behalf of the Ontario government.
Locally, the Elgin Historical Society is hosting a talk by UWO assistant history professor Michelle Hamilton - “Archeology and the Public in Victorian Ontario”. The presentation will cover the early history of collecting Aboriginal artifacts in Elgin County, including establishment of today’s Elgin Historical Society and the fight to protect the Southwold Earthworks. Michelle is a Public Historian whose research focuses on “historical and contemporary issues surrounding museums and heritage, social memory and commemoration, cultural identity and issues of representation, usually in regards to Aboriginal peoples in Canada.” She has taught at Simon Fraser University and the University of Guelph and worked at various museums across Canada, including London’s Museum of Ontario Archaeology, Aylmer and District Museum, Woodland Cultural Centre (Six Nations of the Grand River) and the Glenbow Museum (Calgary). The talk takes place 7:30pm, Wed Feb 22 at the Elgin County Administration Building. (Photo above was taken at the Aylmer & District Museum).