September in the area
September marks the beginning or return of many a beautiful thing. For some, it’s heading back to school and getting back to a routine. For others, it’s the arrival of fall, new seasons of their favourite shows, cultural activities resuming, or Francophonie celebrations. As a family- and culture-oriented city, Hawkesbury has all of this to offer.
September: Back to school!
Whether or not you’re a parent, it’s impossible to miss all of the “back to school” promotions advertised in stores as of early August. In Ontario, school starts on different dates depending on the school board, but it is usually in the last week of August or the first week of September. There are four French-language schools in Hawkesbury—two elementary and two high schools—both Catholic and public. This year, school began on Tuesday, August 30. Whether you’re five years old or 50, getting back into our routines can be hard sometimes. But sooner or later, we always get used to it, and make wonderful memories nonetheless. We hope the 2022 school year started on the right foot for everyone involved, however directly or indirectly.
September: A month full of activities
With fall just around the corner, there are plenty of interesting activities to look forward to. Seasonal weather is all over the place, but we have thought of everything. Not very nice out? Every television channel has back-to-school programming. The most popular French channels in the area are those from Quebec. Here’s a peek at what’s in store. Nice day? The area is full of tourist destinations. The end of summer doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the outdoors: quite the contrary! For many, fall is the best season to spend time outside. Bundle up and discover landscapes that change day after day. If you’re not from around here, you might be wondering what to do. Here are a few suggestions:
- Enjoy the trails (Prescott and Russell and surrounding areas), in town or out in nature, and admire the wonderful views of the ever-changing foliage. Why not pack a picnic to enjoy while out on the trail? Check out the places to visit this fall.
- Find local u-pick farms. Type “u-pick farms near Hawkesbury” in your search engine, along with the fruit or vegetable you would like to pick if you already have something in mind. (Note that while fall is great for apple, squash and pumpkin picking, some places even have pears, fall-bearing raspberry varieties, plums, grapes, northern kiwis and other fruit available.) You’ll find that these options are available at many of the local farms. They may also have other fun things to try, such as corn mazes, pumpkin carving, petting zoos, guided tours, picnic areas and more.
September: Francophonie at its peak
Did you know French is one of only two languages to be spoken across all five continents? Well, it is! At nearly 321 million daily speakers, it is the fifth most spoken language worldwide, behind English, Mandarin, Hindi and Spanish. According to this article from L’actualité (French only), French isn’t a dying language at all. In fact, over the last four years, the number of recognized Francophones worldwide has increased by 7%. This is mainly thanks to sub-Saharan and North Africa.
Approximately 22.8% of Canada’s 35 million inhabitants speak French—one of the two official languages along with English—on a daily basis. Most are in Quebec, but the second province in line for most Francophones is Ontario, home to 550,595 French speakers.
Let’s talk about the area’s well-established Franco-Ontarian roots. More to the point, let’s talk about September 25. Since the end of the sixties, Ontario’s Francophone population has decided to unite and forge its own identity. Being neither Québécois, nor Anglophone, many had felt lost in the province. And so, that was when the Franco-Ontarian identity started to surface. The community’s main goal was to advocate for the right to speak and be served in French, but paving the way for future generations to live in French was equally important. Thanks to all their effort, French was declared an official language of Canada. A student and a professor at the University of Sudbury then created the white and green Franco-Ontarian flag we proudly wave today. On September 25, 1975, the flag was raised for the very first time. That date has henceforth officially been known as Franco-Ontarian Day.
As you may already know, Hawkesbury is one of the best cities for French life in Ontario. Why? Simply because French speakers can be understood and can communicate easily everywhere they go. According to Statistics Canada, 91% of our city’s population is fluent in French and 61% is bilingual (French and English). All services and activities are therefore accessible in French. We are also the immediate neighbours of Quebec, the most Francophone province in the country. As such, every activity, festival, specialized service or anything else you could think of is available in French within a 100-kilometre radius. The freedom to express yourself and live comfortably in your first or preferred language is significant and so reassuring.
Many celebrations await you in the area, whether you’re Franco-Ontarian, Francophone from elsewhere, French Canadian or simply a Francophile. For example, are you familiar with Culture Days? Every year, at the end of September, millions of people attend thousands of artistic and cultural events. This is all free and happens across the country. You can attend in person or online. This year, celebrations extend from September 23 to October 16. Three wonderful weeks bursting with colour, creativity and community events.
There is also the Festival franco-ontarien (French only), a celebration in Ottawa from September 23 to 25. An unforgettable experience of French music and shows for the whole family await.
Another event, this one organized by our neighbouring Quebec, also helps bring September to a nice close. From Friday, September 30 to Sunday, October 2, many activities will be happening throughout the province for Les journées de la culture.
We hope this article will be of use, and that you’ll be able to take full advantage of these many fall activities. For more things to do and more information about the Hawkesbury area, follow our social media.