The annual Easter egg hunts that take place in communities across Manitoulin Island are an example of how our lives are enriched by the countless, and largely unsung, volunteers who make such events possible. This is a tradition that stretches back through the generations and although some of the mechanics and materials may have changed with the time, the giggles and laughter of the children as they scamper about the lawns and fields in search of the bonny bunny’s largesse has remained unsullied by the passage of time.
From the community spirited people such as the late Kathleen Blossom (Reynolds) Mastin, whose backyard was for many years the site of the Assiginack event before it moved to the library grounds for a short stint. For more than three decades, the Assiginack event has been generously hosted on the lawns and fields of the Delmer and Les Fields. Generations of Islanders have made the pilgrimage to those fields to seek the chocolate treasure. Mr. Fields himself is an alumnus of the Mastin’s hunt.
These are conversations to be heard amongst the young parents as they watch their own children scatter among the fields in their turn. Many of these parents have returned from their homes away, towns and cities where economic opportunity has caused them to drift, coming home to visit their parents at Easter and bringing their own children along. These are the fibre from which fond childhood memories are woven—a grandparent’s delight.
Hours of preparation goes into the mechanics of these events, as the thousands of plastic eggs that now do service in place of those born of chickens have to be filled by hand, spread across the fields by hand, and then collected and cleaned for service next year. This is work largely accomplished through the good offices of volunteers who themselves recall the heady excitement of the hunt.
Today tummies may be a tad tender, and the sugar rush largely abated into a crash, but for those few frantic hilarious moments as the children spread out during the Easter egg hunt, a glance at parents’ faces will see more than a few wisps of nostalgia resting in their expressions.
To those who also serve by stuffing plastic eggs and spreading them across the land in Tehkummah, Mindemoya, Sheguiandah, Gore Bay and Kagawong, we salute you. You and countless other unsung heroes of the day have helped create positive and pleasant memories for children, parents, grandparents and a host of other onlookers.