Thousands of residents and tourists descended on South Dundas’ parks and waterfront over the Canada Day long weekend. Great weather and activities, along with the return to normalcy that has been taking place this year, meant there were many events around the municipality, thanks to the efforts of the local tourism businesses, community groups, and the South Dundas Tourism Advisory Committee.
Canada Day events on Friday were back with the gusto and a wealth of activities not seen since 2019. Add to that the arrival of famous guests to the region: Theodore the Tugboat and Canadian musical group Leahy. This year there are more signs – big and small – of the community’s efforts to increase tourism. Years of work are beginning to pay off. You do not have to look far to see that where that work is paying off.
In Iroquois, the local business group’s first of four phases for its plaza included a welcoming giant Adirondack chair for tourists. More Adirondack chairs have appeared at the waterfront parks between Iroquois and Morrisburg – popular places for ship watching or to just sit by the river on a nice day.
Local businesses have been on board with tourism too. In the past year we’ve seen musical acts from Susan Aglukark to most recently Leahy – through the efforts of Stone Crop Acres owners Norene Hyatt-Gervais and Marc Gervais, and their partnership with Harmony Concerts – draw crowds. The Upper Canada Playhouse is back and thriving as is the Prehistoric World, which celebrates 40 years this year. The St. Lawrence Parks Commission attractions are open to pre-pandemic levels and activities.
Looking to local tourism, while it is not the number one employer in South Dundas, it is a very important driver of business and jobs. Tourism brings money into the area, and local events help keep residents at home and engaged in their community. Bringing Theodore the Tugboat to Morrisburg cost the Tourism Advisory Committee about $5,000, and the minor inconvenience of one of the two municipal boat launches being closed for a day. In exchange, thousands of people visited, and spent money locally. That is a tourism win for the area, as are the other tourism efforts. To be successful long term, more must be done.
The last term of council (2014-18) often said that tourism will look after itself. It relied on narrowly-focused groups to look after the bigger picture and was unsuccessful.
What we see from the past three-and-a-half years is that when horizons are broadened, new ideas are considered, and a little spending takes place to plant some seeds – great things can grow.