Canada

Canada, you’re still crazy after all these years

August 8 1977
Canada

Canada, you’re still crazy after all these years

August 8 1977

Canada, you’re still crazy after all these years

Canada

Debbie Stevenson’s cheeks are bulging alarmingly, flushed with the strain. Someone in the crowd is making a rude remark about the busty young lady’s lung power. Others, aware of the heightening tension, are quietly edging nearer for a closer look. In an instant, it’s all over. Debbie Stevenson has spit. She has blasted a watermelon seed over a distance of 27 feet, tragically short of the world record (57 feet, 8V2 inches), but far enough to propel her to the female championship in the Sanford, Manitoba, watermelon-seedspitting contest, an event that gives every promise of becoming one of the province’s zanier summertime fixtures.

Maybe it’s sheer coincidence, a heat mirage imposing crazy-quilt patterns on random events. But more than at any time since Centennial Year a decade ago, Canadians in this hot season seemed eager to forget briefly about problems with the economy, Quebec, the media, Prime Minister Trudeau and a looming postal strike and indulge themselves with a genuine, exuberant, laughing splurge of midsummer abandon.

In Nova Scotia, hundreds of fishermen watched with delight off the province’s south coast as mackerel and bluefin tuna turned up in such rare abundance they were literally jumping around the boats.

In Montreal, sweltering city dwellers were agog when a local radio station arranged to have two tons of manufactured snow dumped in the middle of a busy intersection. Ontarians slyly ogled news coverage of such eye-filling events as the Miss Nude World Contest and a nearnude wedding, while British Columbia presented the spectacle of a summer belly-flop diving contest, starring pot-bellied presidential brother Billy Carter. And in tourist-jammed Quebec City, one of the popular calèche horses, fed up with the soaring temperatures, simply lay down on the street for a brief nap before resuming its trek around the historic sites, to the amusement, rather than the consternation, of paying customers.

At times, the heatwaves seemed to prompt a virtual preoccupation either with taking off or putting on clothes. After a bikini wedding on Toronto’s Centre Island was widely publicized, Elaine Willis and her fiancé, Jack Logsdon, decided they

could do even better and asked to be married completely naked. When the minister demurred (it might hurt his dignity, he said), the couple had a fully clothed church wedding but, undaunted, staged a mock ceremony later near St. Catharines, Ontario, in which the whole wedding party was starkers except for the bride who wore a veil and garter. Even Ottawa wasn’t immune. The chief electoral officer

announced that a group calling itself the Nude Garden Party had registered as Canada’s newest political party. Headed by Vancouverite Patrick Britten—predictably, a nudist gardener—the party seemed confident it could get the re-

quired 50 candidates before a vote is called.

The fun wasn’t restricted to the young, the nubile and the naked. Lloyd McQuinn, 72, and his 84-year-old girl friend, Christina Grant, made a big splash when they both broke with their traditions and eloped to Toronto from Saint John, New Brunswick. E^p^lined McQuinn: "I’ve always wanted do something sneaky. We came (to Toronto) to get married because everybody back home was mad at us.”

Both quickly returned to New Brunswick, however, having left behind a total of 10 children, 32 grandchildren, 12 greatgrandchildren and two great, greatgrandchildren from previous marriages.

But for sheer summer enjoyment, complete with inevitable foul-ups, few cities equal Winnipeg where, in the fleeting weeks between spring and fall, Manitobans rush to enjoy the activities prohibited by punitive prairie winters. The moment temperatures permit bulky coats to be peeled off, Winnipeg’s bustling Portage Avenue fills with noon-hour voyeurs, male and female, hungry for sights denied them for seven long months. Feminists may squawk at the gawking, but owners of The Love Shop, a Portage Avenue store offering devices to enhance sexual bliss, think the universe is unfolding splendidly. 8 Says the store manager: "Our sales, urn, § peak in June and August. I really don’t | know why, but it could have something to % do with all the girl-watching that goes on 8 around here.” >

However, things did not go as smoothly for all Manitobans. Two couples, strangers to each other, ended up parked side by side in camper vans in one of the province’s unusually crowded trailer parks. In the morning, one couple began frying bacon and eggs on the burner between the campers, while the other pair was fulfilling more connubial urges. Preoccupied, they failed to notice that the supports for their wall bed were collapsing under the stress

and within seconds the naked pair had joined the breakfast in their neighbors’ frying pan. The infuriated breakfasters sued for invasion of privacy, but evenI tually decided to settle out of court to avoid publicity.

No Canadian summer, however, would be complete without at least one new lake monster spotting, a new book of NewI foundland humor and a vegetable-growf; ing contest. The summer of '77 had all jj three.

In the Appalachian Mountains, 200 miles northeast of Quebec City, three Toronto adventurers claimed to have snapped a picture of Ponik, the legendary beast of Lake Pohenegamook. But there was a catch. Group leader Bob Murray said the expedition had cost $10,000 and as a result the exclusive snapshot would go only to the highest bidder.

In Nova Scotia, Howard Dill hoped to break the world record for big pumpkins by growing one that exceeds 451 pounds. Howard is as confident as he is devoted. "Some nights I sit up with them [the pumpkins] to make sure they're alright. Pumpkins are like cows, they do most of their work at night.”

And Newfoundlanders were chuckling over a new booklet, celebrating the isI land’s brand of humor and containing a story about an elderly couple who had been given a TV set for the first time. "John,” says the old woman involved, 1 "there’s a wonderful lot of fellers on this machine that keeps talkin’ about sexual relations. Do we have any?” Assured by her husband that they’d had such reíaI tions for years, she shoots bock: "Then how comes we never gets a Christmas card from ’em?' ”

Clearly, some people this summer still have atl their values right.