Today - July 1 - is Canada Day. I realized that exactly five years ago, I was on a trip up into the Yukon Territory, and happened to be in a little town called Faro on the big day.
Faro was built in the wilderness around 1970s to serve a massive lead-zinc mine. Its population peaked at more than 2,000 in the early 1980s - but then the mine closed. It has reopened and reclosed a few times since (I think it was open on a limited basis when I was there in 2004), but the town never recovered. A few hundred people live there now; there is an effort to bring in wilderness tourism.
So, the town is a shell of its former self. When I was there, you could drive past dozens upon dozens of vacant, slowly deteriorating townhouses, apartment buildings and single-family homes, and boarded-up public buildings and stores. It was a little bit like Hoyt Lakes on the Minnesota Iron Range - but a whole lot more extreme.
Still, there were signs of civic pride. The town still maintained a golf course that wove among the homes all through town, and on an overlook near town was a park with a nicely tended sign that read "Faro Arboretum," and some displays on local plants.
I found out that there was going to a Canada Day celebration and stuck around town. I'm glad I did - it was a nice little slice of small-town Canada. First the local kids assembled to sing O Canada outside the school, and a crowd of 40 or 50 people assembled to sing along. Then they assembled for the parade on the road that looped all through town. The parade was short and sweet - the local RCMP truck, two fire trucks, an ambulance, another emergency truck, a decorated Gator, two decorated cars and eight to 10 kids on decorated bikes (see photo above).
The parade went on past scattered groups of spectators, then headed back the the school / shopping center area for a post-parade gathering. I'm pretty sure they handed out some prizes. A tent was set up, and I think there were more events planned, but I had to hit the road.
All in all, a nice first Canada Day for me - and one more reason for me to be a big fan of our neighbor (neighbour?) to the north.
More photos of Faro here.