CORNWALL, Ontario – Experts will tell you the secret to long-term love is finding something both you, and your partner, can enjoy.
When they got together, years ago, Ron Graham and France Bourget probably never thought part of their relationship would be built on firing heavy objects around an open field – but that’s exactly what happened.
The Loch Garry couple have fallen head over heels for highland games events like sheaf tossing and hammer throws, to name a few.
While Graham is a 10-year veteran of the sport, Bourget just this year hit the field. She plans on entering events in Williamstown and far-off Maynooth, Ont., alongside her partner.
“I had been to all of his events and practices,” Bourget said of Graham. “I’m not the type of person to just sit on the sidelines. I have to get up and do something.”
With the flick of a wrist and just a slight grunt, Bourget arcs her shoulders and rips into the sheaf toss for a novice spectator at Menard Park in east-end Cornwall where the couple practices.
“I hooked it, didn’t I?” she asks Graham, the bag landing with a thud behind her.
“No it looked good,” he replies.
Of course now it’s Graham’s turn, and the 10 years of experience shows as Graham launches the sheaf, a weighted burlap bag, into the air with the help of a two-pronged pitchfork.
It takes a few seconds longer for it to hit the ground.
“It’s a very technical sport,” he said. “You really have to get out and practice.”
Menard Park has become a focal point for highland games trainers in the city. Local radio personality Dan Allaire, who lives nearby, can often be seen trudging down Concorde Avenue with a caber on his shoulders.
He uses the open field at Menard Park to hone skills, flipping the caber end over end.
Graham says the sport is one of tradition, and loyalty. The equipment he uses to train with was passed down to him from other athletes in North Glengarry. And Graham readily admits he probably do the same when it’s his turn to pass on the equipment.
“A lot of these events are by invitation – you can’t just show up and expect to throw,” he said.
This is why it is all the more special that Bourget can compete alongside him.
“It’s a lot of fun,” she gushed, with just a bit of sweat on her brow. “You really get into it.”
The Glengarry Highland Games take place Aug. 1 and 2 in Maxville.