Corn crop resilience bodes well for roast

Oliver Paipoonge, Ont. — Renowned Canadian humourist Stephen Leacock once observed that enjoying a nosh outdoors “in the open air” is one of life’s small joys. Leacock, who grew up on an Ontario farm, was undoubtedly referring in part to a traditional corn roast, which is apparently making a comeback in the post COVID-19 pandemic era. Rev. Rob Cain, the pastor at Slate River Baptist Church in Oliver Paipoonge, said he ordered about 170 freshly-picked cobs for the church’s corn roast to take place on Sunday afternoon. “We make a bonfire and cook it up in a large cauldron,” Cain said Thursday. “People drop by for just 30 minutes to have some corn, or pull up a chair and stay for a few hours.” The church has been having fall corn roasts for more than 30 years. Sunday’s event may seem extra special, Cain said, since gatherings had largely been curtailed during COVID’s height. Cain said he obtained the cobs from Belluz Farms, the main producer of sweet corn in Thunder Bay’s farming belt. Though a severe rainfall shortage in June and parts of July nearly cut the area growing season short, the moisture that did eventually fall on farm fields more than salvaged the corn crop. “Corn did very well this year,” said Tarlok Sahota, director of Lakehead University’s Agricultural Research Station. “Good cobs with tall plants.” Cain, who is from London, England, has worked in Canada for 15 years. He noted that while Thanksgiving is not celebrated in his home country, many Britons mark the season. “We call it the Harvest Festival, which is similar to Thanksgiving,” he said. “It’s a chance for people to connect, and to thank the farmers for all the hard work they do.”