When I was a teenager, Dominion Beach was the place to be in the summer. It was the busiest beach in Cape Breton and the second busiest in the province. During Seaside Days, it was common for there to be ten thousand or more people on the beach. Each year, the town would have a “beach day.” It was a grand celebration with music, weightlifting competitions and, of course, “Best Buns on the Beach!” This was a bikini contest where the girls would line up in their string bikinis and the boys in their Speedos and chiselled muscles. I was a skinny, 140 pound teenager who wore cut-off shorts to the beach. But I entered the contest as a joke one year. I went up on stage in front of those thousands of cheering people and flexed my little microscopic muscles in perfect Steve Urkel style. It was good for my popularity, but perhaps not in the way I intended.
Long days were spent at Dominion – drinking beer, swimming, walking the beach, hoping to get noticed. We would bring our “ghetto blasters” and listen to Def Leppard. “Pour Some Sugar on Me” still brings back those Dominion days. Whenever I hear it, I have a desire to go to the beach.
This all ended a number of years ago when the beach closed due to high bacteria levels from sewer outflows. The beach became a ghost town. The take-out place on the beach closed. The beginning of the beautiful boardwalk was covered by rocks tossed up during Nor’easters. It was during these “dark days” that I fell in love with Dominion Beach all over again. I discovered the other, more subtle levels of its beauty. The boardwalk bisects the beach so that the ocean and sand dunes are on one side and the amazing wetland is on the other. Great blue herons patiently fish – the dinosaur birds, I call them. A family of foxes peeks playfully up every once in a while from behind the grasses. People walk the boardwalk with their dogs – getting exercise, fresh air and peace of mind. There is a lot of beauty on this protected beach that can best be experienced when the crowds are gone.
This year, the beach re-opened. We went today – Bailey, Marcie and I – and swam at the beach for the first time in years. There were a lot of people, but not quite like in those glory days. Dominion Beach is a great long sandbar where you can enjoy people watching in the crowds or wander down the far end for solitude. There are lifeguards on the beach which make it a great beach for families with small children. Dominion has everything and something for everyone. In fact, this year, the beach day celebration is returning on July 28th from 12-4 pm with music, entertainment and activities for the whole family. There will even be some beach volleyball games! Thankfully, this beach was important enough to us as a community to do something about the sewer and bring it back to its popular, social splendour. Now if only people would stop leaving their garbage. When we were there, we picked up Styrofoam cups, Pepsi cans and pieces of plastic. Why anyone would leave their trash on a beach is beyond me. Hopefully, we will learn from the example of Dominion and value our beaches enough that we start respecting them more by keeping them clean and not destroying the sensitive areas such as wetlands and sand dunes.
Welcome back Dominion Beach!
Until next time, I’m off on another Beach Bum Adventure!