This time last year, Catherine O’Donnell of Willow Cakes and Pastries would have had all the ingredients for the huge traditional Canada Day cake ordered, and she’d be in her kitchen at home making the figures to go on it.
This year, she’s in the bakery, serving customers at the counter as they come in to pick up the breads and desserts for which Willow is known and loved.
It was confirmed about a month ago that Canada Day celebrations, including the cake walk down Queen Street, along with activities in Simcoe Park and at Fort George, ending in fireworks, are all cancelled, she said.
“It doesn’t feel right not to be working on the cake, but this is what our world is now, and we have to accept it,” she says.
Instead, O’Donnell will be making Canada Day cupcakes, which will be sold by the Friends of Fort George, in packages designed to help families celebrate together, safely, at home.
She had a design ready to go in January, she said, one that is “whimsical and fun,” and a team excited to begin work on, but it will have to wait until next year.
She also had a generous donor who offered to pay for the ingredients, so she would only provide the labour, which was a huge relief to her from a business standpoint. The donor has graciously offered to fund the cake next year.
This is normally a very chaotic time for O’Donnell, as she adds many extra hours to complete the traditional cake while still running the bakery.
But it’s also a time she loves, thinking of the gift she’s giving to the community that has been so supportive of Willow over the years. She also looks forward to the walk down Queen Street, with her family, greeting all the locals and visitors who line up to see the cake.
“People thank us for our time, and that’s nice. We feel the love that day,” she says.
“Canada Day is such a great time for the community to come together. It’s sad that we don’t get to experience it this year.”
When the cake has been cut and handed out to the crowds in Simcoe Park, “I go home, exhausted. I never last to see the fireworks, but it’s a great feeling of satisfaction.”
Now, she says, she’s ready to embrace what Fort George has planned to do what’s best for the community and help everyone enjoy a safe Canada Day.
The packages will include six cupcakes, flags, pins, Canada Day tattoos, glow sticks, Parks Canada swag, balloons and more. These packages can be ordered online through our gift shop at https://friendsoffortgeorge.square.site or by calling the gift store at 905-468-6621. The cost is $35 per package with free delivery in NOTL, and $40 per package with delivery outside of NOTL.
All proceeds will support the Friends of Fort George and Willow Cakes and Pastries.
There are a limited number of packages available with a deadline of June 25 for orders.
The Friends have also created #CanadaDayNOTL, and hope community members will use it to share images of how they are celebrating Canada Day this year.
Canada Day festivities from previous years will be on Friends of Fort George social media channels (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram), with some special content to be shared on Canada Day, so the community can all celebrate together, says Amanda Gamble, executive director of the Friends of Fort George.
Gamble says the Friends of Fort George hope the community will join them to celebrate the 154th anniversary of Confederation in 2021.