When I can, I wander to the stream. To fish. For trout as they run abundantly near home. I open up my 4 weight fly rod and put the sections together as if by ritual, which means I take my time. One actually learns to clear one’s mind and start to think like a fish. I contemplate the water. I look for the riffles and eddies, where the fish hang out because that is where the food gathers and the oxygen is in great supply. I open my bag of fly boxes and look for something that I have crafted that best represents what these fish eat each and every day. Happily I rarely get skunked, I catch fish. There is always a trout waiting for an opportunity to strike.

Tourism Port Hope approached us recently and said. “you know, we’ll be welcoming between 10 and 15 thousand Asians this fall and we would like to celebrate their arrival”. The statement was the preamble to a project request to develop a campaign to welcome these folk and encourage them to experience (a phrase tourism marketers like to use these day) Port Hope.

Considering the task, we could extol the virtues of country living and a glimpse inside the world of rural Canada. We have beautiful gardens, a long-running and respected house tour. We even have, arguably, the best example of a restored main street in Canada and one of the only atmospheric theatres still in existence. And my favourite fun fact… one of the top 10 book stores in Canada. Quite a bit to wade through on a day trip visit to our town. Right?

But think about it, is this enough to focus a detour of those passing by at 120 kilometres per hour making Port Hope a destination? And what about those Asians, the Dutch, the German’s, Brits, Spanish and yes, Americans?

One could simply be quiet and just do the work — right? We asked the question. What is the greatest population that visits Port Hope each and every year – without fail? And when they come could we not get out our welcoming placards and dance the street with noise makers and celebrate their arrival? Will they pay attention or just become confused. After all, they quite possibly haven’t been to this country before and assuredly not Port Hope. They are from different cultures, speak different languages and eat different food. So, what are we truly celebrating?

Let’s sidestep for a moment. A friend came by the studio and told me a story of how a gathering of Asians convened at one of Port Hope’s finer restaurants in the depths of winter. His thought was that they must be here to see our theatre and take in a dinner and performance, after all it was an entire bus load. The tour coordinator enlightened him. No, they hadn’t come to Port Hope to see theatre at all, which is kind of a misnomer because that is exactly why they came. They came to take in a rare performance of Canada’s Snowy Owl in the wild. Some travelled 10,683 kilometres to see an owl – a sighting most of us could see if we took a walk outside our door (at the right time of year and day). Think of how much that would cost them.

Concerning this project: the ahhhh-haaaa moment came to me, as it usually does – at three in the morning. The largest population to visit our community each year are the trout – in the spring and the salmon – in the fall. People from all over the globe make their way to our community to see our fish. Not to catch them, but to see them. In essence, our guests migrate to Port Hope to see our migratory visitors. With people travelling thousands of kilometres to have a glimpse of our natural heritage is it maybe time that we focus on protecting and promoting this resource? Should we not choose to celebrate these wonders and share them with our friends?

Migrate Port Hope… Naturally is in its infancy. It promises to celebrate our natural world and call attention for ourselves and our global visitor to see all of our unique migratory species: our monarchs, our geese, our owls, our salmon and my favourite, our trout.

Can we get our community behind this? Starting now you will see more and more symbolic representations of nature, starting with our rainbow trout windsock, now flying at various retail locations. The windsock is a sign of good luck and evidence that our merchants, not only welcome our visitor but they celebrate the migration of our natural heritage.

There is more to follow. Migrate Port Hope… Naturally is for our entire community. We invite you to share your stories about your interactions with local nature and reach out for friends to visit.

Might you want to get on board or share some ideas? Give us a call. Contact Limelight

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