Good Ol' Valcartier/Shannon Road Blocks
When somebody from the village gets married, everybody from the village meets at the Road Block to celebrate together. Back in the day, Road Blocks were set up on the Boulevard, which meant that anybody unknowingly driving through the village actually had to wait before being able to get through. However, due to the increasing population, Road Blocks are now celebrated on Rourke Road (near the sugar shack) so that they don't cause any traffic interferences. As Martha Maher Kelly notes, while the wedding party is in church for the ceremony, the friends who weren't invited to the wedding, prepare and set everything up before the wedding party's arrival. They spread bales of hay out across the road and patiently await for the wedding party to arrive. Upon their arrival the hay is lit on fire and the celebration truly begins. It's tradition for the wedding party to share drinks with everyone. In fact, according to Michel Jackson and Thelma Hogan, it's tradition to tie a white ribbon to the father of the bride's liquor bottle. It was customary to do this so that everyone could easily identify his bottle and make an effort to drink from it, as this would bring love and good health to the newly weds. This goes along with the information that Martha Maher Kelly has noted in the comments below, it was tradition for the father of the bride to give drinks to those who weren't invited to the wedding as they had set up the Road Block for them. At this point, everybody cheers and celebrates with the bride and groom until it's time for them to head off to their reception party. As the wedding party leaves, they drive through the ashes and continue through the village. It's typical for the wedding party to ''burn out'' as they drive through the ashes. Once the bride and groom are gone, the smoke show continues for certain.
As Kathleen and Martha Maher Kelly note below, Shannon has also had its fair share of Road Blocks as well. In Shannon, the Road Blocks are set up on Gosford road on the Community Hall side of the Shannon Bridge. Maureen Conway Maher notes below that her father, who came over from Ireland, started the Road Block tradition in Shannon. (If you have more information regarding Shannon Road Blocks, please share! I'd love to add your knowledge to this page.)
I've tried to find the exact origins of this tradition and have found some old fire rituals that occur in Ireland and Scotland, but I've yet to find anything exactly like it. However, according to Dany Tetu's boss, who is actually from Ireland, the tradition is in fact Irish and dates back hundreds of years ago. Apparently, whenever there were parties (not just weddings) it was tradition to block the crossroads. The smoke from the fire was helpful as it would indicate the party's location from afar so that people could find their way. I'm not so sure that they still do this in Ireland today, but it's nice to see that this unique tradition has been kept alive in our communities. This is one fire I don't think will ever die down.
Lastly, Jean Johnston has mentioned in the comments below that CBC network filmed a show that aired entitled "This Land is Our Land" which featured segments of his own wedding and Road Block. I've yet to find a digital version of the show, but I will definitely share it if I come across it. However, Patricia Balkcom from Genealogies of Shannon and Valcartier has posted the show script to her webpage. Click here to read it.
PS - I'd like to thank all of you who have shared and contributed all of this important information. It's thanks to your help that we can piece everything together with justice. As I mentioned in a previous post, it takes a village to tell its story. So on that note, a huge thank you goes out to: Pamala Hogan, Melissa Laberge, Thelma Hogan, Michel Jackson, Kathleen, Martha Maher Kelly, Jean Johnston, Dany Tetu and his boss, Gary Bowles, Marjorie Lougheed, Bradley Hicks, and Maureen Conway Maher. Thank you all so much for your help and allowing everyone to benefit from your stories and knowledge!
PPS- This one is on me... Sorry Shannon. I wasn't trying to disrespect you guys at all. I feel terrible. I did forget to mention this in my previous post, but Shannon has had Road Blocks as well. Thanks to Kathleen and Martha Maher Kelly for reminding me of this. I appreciate it. However, since I've never been to one in Shannon, I'm not fully aware of all the details. Here are a few questions I have, that perhaps some of you can answer for me: Are the traditions exactly the same in Shannon and Valcartier? Do Road Blocks still happen in Shannon? If not, when was the last one and why did they stop? Does anybody know whether this tradition began in Shannon or Valcartier first? Just wondering... I'd love to know more so that I could compare them.
FINAL PS- Stay tuned for more to come... Thanks to Melissa Laberge, I'll be sharing some fun video footage of Valcartier Road Blocks! :)
If any of you have additional information regarding Shannon or Valcartier Road Blocks, feel free to share! I'd love to hear about it and I'm sure others would too! It's always fun to look at these special moments.