Winter Cove’s famed barbecue
Reading my recent post about Winter Cove that mentioned the famous Saturna Island Canada Day lamb barbecue at Winter Cove, partner Lynne said: “How can we put out a cruising guide to the Gulf Islands and have never actually been at Winter Cove on Canada Day?”
There was no good answer, so when we arrived on Thursday evening, there were more than 60 other boats already under anchor in Winter Cove. We had never seen so many boats here. By Friday morning (Canada Day) there were about 75 boats, many from US ports of call, and space for many more.
The RCMP did, however, ask the crew of a behemoth, lashed to a 16-foot “dinghy” with a powerful Mercury, if they wouldn’t perhaps be happier anchored in roomy Irish Bay, a couple minutes away.
The first thing you notice on arrival ashore on Canada Day is how nice people are. Through the day, as you talk to locals, it begins to sink in how important this barbecue is to people who live on the island.
Saturna Island has a few hundred full-time residents. And about half of them volunteer to help put at the barbecue from which the money raised goes to finance so many of their public services, their library and medical centre.
This was the barbecue’s 67th year, held annually since 1950 when Canada Day was still Dominion Day. In recent years, well over 1,000 meals are served, though this year overcast skies and light rain kept the crowds down a bit.
People not only arrive by boat, but by car and ferry to the island. There are booths selling books and crafts, ice cream and other sweet treats, even burgers and hotdogs for those not crazy about lamb. There were nail-hammering contests, bingo, a small golf driving range, as well as games for kids including a busy dunk tank.
From a main stage, there was music, speeches and where local folks shared inside jokes and said prayers.
It was a good time, with good food and cold beer. Maybe we’ll return a few more times before scratching it off our bucket list.