We meet in the shadows and plan our route for the late afternoon, prowling the alleys, neighbourhood by neighbourhood, looking for hints about what lies behind the hedges, fences, and doors. Sometimes we’re caught—mistaken for real estate agents or eager home buyers—and we quickly reveal our purpose: we’re with the Cumberland Community Forest Society and we’re on the search for participants for our 2022 Home, Garden, and Culture Crawl.
We’ve learned to look for clues. It’s not always easy to identify an incredible garden in March or a new renovation through curtained windows. Alleys offer the best point of view; we’re fortunate that Cumberland has them. They reveal domestic authenticity. The empty garden beds, gates and fences, the back stairs, the shed, the greenhouse, the tree fort, the kitchen window—they all offer insights. The light and shadows of dusk reveal even more. We gather enough information to take our explorations to the next level: a note dropped stealthily on the front step, or a knock on the door.
It could be said that there are just two kinds of people in the world: those who want to snoop around in the homes and gardens of perfect strangers; and those who do not. Thank goodness there are a lot of folks who define themselves as the former. Without them, the Cumberland Home, Garden, and Culture Crawl would make no sense.
Homeowners also fall firmly into two camps. One camp loves to show off their space, host visitors, and share photos and stories. They are motivated by deadlines to complete all the little projects they’ve been meaning to get around to. The other is terrified by the idea of strangers in their private places. Fortunately, these two camps identify themselves early in the process. Sometimes we even convince the trepidatious ones to go for it anyway!
Launched in 2015 as the Cumberland Home and Garden Tour, the event had five successful years before the pandemic brought it to a standstill. That makes 2022 the sixth (but should be eighth) annual event. This year we’re bringing the culture crawl element to the forefront, inviting Cumberland’s creativity to take centre stage. To say we’re excited is an understatement. The committee is so happy to be out exploring, making cool discoveries, and meeting new people. Cumberland still holds lots of surprises.
The tour was developed to reflect the quirks, charms, and character of Cumberland. From heritage classics to modern builds, and from food forests to flower gardens, the Cumberland Home, Garden, and Culture Crawl is an expression of diversity, change, and the resilience of the Village. We have featured studios, carriage houses, commercial buildings, churches, urban farms, galleries, and spaces for entertaining. Music, art, food, and drink are woven through the tour, and the unique neighbourhoods of the Village are celebrated by both locals and visitors.
There has been so much change, and so many projects, undertaken in the Village over the past two years. Folks have been channelling their stress and deepening their connection to place by creating sanctuaries, digging in the dirt, raising chickens, and feeding bees.
This year’s tour is part of a collective emergence. As a community, we are shifting from privacy and isolation to reconnection. We are blooming like flowers, ready to bare our souls and show our true colours. We are heading back into the world with curiosity, ready to get to know each other again—to meet those who have lived here for generations and introduce ourselves to those who have recently arrived. All of us share an affection for a very special Village.
The 2022 Cumberland Home, Garden, and Culture Crawl takes place on Saturday, June 25. It’s a fundraiser for the Cumberland Community Forest Society, which has been raising money, protecting ecosystems, and purchasing forest around Cumberland since the year 2000. This year the CCFS is closing in on another 40-acre parcel of forest along lower Perseverance Creek, and every penny raised will support this imminent acquisition. Tickets are available at www.cumberlandforest.com.