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Communities in Bloom judges visiting Pugwash

Pugwash is getting the opportunity to shine in the national spotlight as judges from the Communities in Bloom program visited the village earlier this week.

 It’s the first time judges from the national organization have visited the community since 2017. The COVID-19 pandemic prevented travel for the national competition in 2020 and last year’s event was done via Zoom.

“Last year, we did a discussion with the Pugwash people via Zoom. It’s not the same as actually seeing the community, but it was very hopeful as we prepared to come here this year,” judge Linda Tomlinson of Kelowna, B.C. said.

The judges arrived in the community Sunday with Monday being their evaluation day in Pugwash. They were hosted at a noon luncheon in the Lobster Factory building before being given a tour of the Thinkers Lodge National Historic Site.

From there, they were given a guided tour through Pugwash with representatives of the local Communities in Bloom committee.

Each participating community is judged in six categories, including community appearance, environmental action, heritage conservation, tree management, landscape and plant and floral displays.Judge Lorna McIlroy of Grande Prairie, Alta. said she has driven through Pugwash before, but this was the first time she has stopped in the community.

“Wow,” she said. “They have a lot going for it as a community. There’s lots of community involvement and you see everyone working together with everyone doing their part.”

Tomlinson said she’s impressed with the heritage on display in the village in its architecture.“Coming from the West, everything is relatively new,” Tomlinson said. “My house was built in 1928 and that classifies as old in Alberta. We’re very young out west.”

Tomlinson was also impressed with the incredible scenery offered by Pugwash with its location along the Northumberland Strait and the waterfront, including Eaton Park and Thinkers Lodge – the birthplace of the Pugwash peace movement started by industrialist Cyrus Eaton in 1957 with the first Pugwash Conference.

McIlroy said Communities in Bloom is all about enhancing community pride.

“The theme is Growing Great Places together,” McIlroy said. Teresa Kewachuk said it was great to give the judges a tour of Thinkers Lodge.“It’s a great opportunity for them to learn about a very important historical site for Canada and the world,” she said. “Seeing this building that means so much to the peace program and to see the Nobel Peace medal is often inspiring for people who visit here.”

Norene Smiley of Pugwash Communities in Bloom said it’s a “big deal” to host the judges in the village – especially when there are fewer communities participating as the country emerges from the pandemic that shut things down for more than two years.

Smiley said the judges’ critique is taken seriously by the local committee as it prepares for future competitions.“We take their comments very seriously and do the best we can to implement their suggestions,” Smiley said.

While the competition gives them a deadline to push for, she said the local committee is very “self-motivated” as evidenced by the completion of the open air gallery that features paintings on the exterior walls of several buildings in the village core.Smiley said Communities in Bloom has been very successful in Pugwash with many positive comments from residents and visitors.

Pugwash was a National Communities in Bloom winner in 2014 and received recognition for Five Blooms – Silver in 2017.