We have a tremendous community of Canadians in our desert…and the population grows, of course, during the winter months.
This annual picnic began 61 years ago to provide a sense of home to homesick Canadians. From the website The History of The Great Canadian Picnic:
In 1953, when Vic Wallace’s job at the Wallace Lumber Mill brought on acute asthma, his doctor advised him to move to a drier climate or his life would be cut short. So Vic, his wife, Reta, and their two daughters moved from Thamesford, Ontario, Canada – a small rural village 15 miles east of London – to Lynwood Street in downtown Phoenix.
Reta, Vic, and other expatriate Canadians arrived in Phoenix when the only things many had in common were respiratory ailments or arthritic conditions. To counteract the isolation and homesickness that sometimes troubled new arrivals, Reta and Vic started the Canadian Social Club of Greater Phoenix, bringing together newcomers who would otherwise have gone it alone. During the 1950s and 60s, it was a vital source of exchange, support and referrals for families who had relocated to the Valley.