Charlie Teljeur: Thinking big
|By Charlie Teljeur - Contributing Writer | February 1, 2018|
So, here we sit, smack dab between two significant weekends in the Haliburton Highlands. For clarification, I’m referring to the time between Weekend #1 and Weekend #2 of the Canadian National Pond Hockey Championships.
This is an event that draws hundreds of people to this area for two wintry weekends a year and it’s a prime example of what’s possible in an area that too often and too easily concedes that “that’s impossible.”
Some of you who know about the event also know that it’s my brother (John) who owns and runs this event so naturally I’m a bit biased (around 19 per cent I’m guessing) but there is still a great lesson to be learned here. Again, about what’s possible if you throw some ambition behind some resources.
The championships began in 2006 and were hosted in Huntsville for a number of years. It’s an event that my brother and I, along with three other fine upstanding citizens from this area (a lawyer, a real estate agent and a pharmacist which now that I think of it sounds like the start of a joke) attended a number of times. Somewhere along the line, John decided to acquire the event and move it to Haliburton. Why? Because he lives here and wants to make it work here even though the groundwork and facilities are certainly more readily available in Huntsville.
It’s being held in Haliburton mainly to prove a point: that you can succeed at something ambitious in this place.
The first reaction most people have when checking out this event live is the amazement that it’s actually happening in Haliburton (County) followed closely by the eventual question of “Why don’t we do more stuff like this?” Well, why don’t we?
The answer is simple. For the most part, collectively we lack the ambition, the drive and the experience that, yes indeed, something like this can happen here. It just takes initiative, motivation and a willingness to learn.
Pond hockey by no means is the only event that matches the true tourism criteria of putting heads in beds but these kind of “I gotta get myself to Haliburton County” events are few and far between. Ask yourself how many events we hold that truly have someone making plans to be up here? Not day trips or events held while people are already here, I mean events that people plan their time off around. Events they book a year in advance. The answer is “very few.”
We’re not alone. Communities from all over face the same predicaments as Haliburton County but choose to persevere and find a way to make it work. Bobcaygeon, some years back, hosted the Tragically Hip. Havelock
hosts a massive music event that annually dominates the landscape. Why not us? Why can’t it happen here?
Again we’re back to ambition and initiative. Build it and they will come. We need to hold more events like pond
hockey. People need to put this county on their collective map. They need to make this place a destination for more than just the obvious. We need to create interest where previously there was none. When someone
hears about your event and instantly asks ‘is that happening in Haliburton County?’ then we know we’re on the right track and we can do this for way more than hockey on a
Charlie Teljeur is a contributing writer for The Highlander.