This summer I decided I wanted to open a camp—a Crystal Lake-minus-the-murders style camp—called Camp Firewood. Ok, so I decided I wanted to pretend that I wanted to open a camp. I’m not going to open a camp. But if you spend any time driving around rural PEI, you’ll understand why my fancy ended up with a bit of a tickle: basically every single roadside sign advertising firewood for sale has “CAMP FIREWOOD” on a piece of plywood in a hand-painted all-caps scrawl. They may think they’re just selling logs, but what they’re selling is the wet, hot Canadian dream of a rustic campground franchise.
Camp Firewood came to life for me a little bit this week down at the Land of Evangeline Campground in Grand Pré, not far from Wolfville. The 2012 Canadian Chef’s Congress rolled into town only to unroll dozens of sleeping bags, pitch a village full of tents and basically go nuts. A flag for the Congress was planted at the top of the campground. The stiff, wrinkled sheet was taped awkwardly to a spindly pole looking for all the world like a project taken from a summer camp arts and crafts cabin and thrust into the ground to declare the birth of a new nation in some kind of a Lord of the Flies fit. Luckily for everybody involved, the only Piggy in sight was the one that they roasted for tonight’s dinner.