It's an old cliché that nothing worthwhile is easy. Perhaps no one knows this better than the organizers of a naturist festival. Just ask those folks who were involved in staging the first-ever Canadian naturist festival in August.
Members of the FCN who have attended Naturist Society gatherings and festivals had long talked of hosting a similar event north of the border. The Naturist Society was happy to support a Canadian event, and agreed to assist by lending promotional assistance and guidance to the organizers.
With a first-time event, some glitches were to be expected. Two different FCN volunteer coordinators worked in the early months to put together a program and registration plan; but as the date for the festival loomed, it was clear that some fundamental pieces were still missing.
Enter Judy Williams, FCN Government Affairs Director and longtime Naturist Action Committee board member (and veteran gathering attendee). With only weeks to go before the festival, and despite being in the middle of a major battle with the University of British Columbia over Wreck Beach, Judy generously agreed to take over planning and pull together the missing elements. So it was that a co-ordinator from British Columbia put the finishing touches on a festival in eastern Ontario! The ever-energetic Judy had a great deal of onsite help from others.
Because the club has a limited number of cottages and trailers for rent, many festival guests either tent-camped or stayed in nearby motels. French is the dominant language spoken at CNRB, though it's quite possible to get by speaking English. Owners Richard and Odette Brunet and Gaby Dussault were gracious hosts and did much to help the festival run smoothly; and the CNRB members and staff did their best to make attendees feel welcome.
About 100 people came to the festival, most from Ontario and Québec but others from more distant points in Canada and the USA. Some arrived early for the Thursday pre-festival day trip to Oka Beach, Montréal's premiere naturist beach. Unfortunately the weather was not ideal (cloudy with occasional light rain), so the crowd was far short of the usual hundreds of attendees one might expect to find at Oka on a warm, sunny summer day. However, it was certainly warm enough for nudity, so the festival group settled in to explore the shoreline, swim, and socialize with members of the local Okapulco user group, including its gregarious leader, Jacques-André Gill.Better weather?We hoped for better weather for the festival's opening day; instead, Friday was even worse. Cool temperatures and steady rain showers kept many campers away; and the bad weather had Judy and her cadre of helpers scrambling to relocate events and keep the schedule running as smoothly as possible. Those who did attend were content to roll with the changes and overall kept a cheerful attitude. Fortunately, CNRB's clubhouse (with sauna) and covered terrace (with hot tub) offered refuge for nudesters looking to escape the chilly dampness.
Meanwhile, there were plenty of workshops and discussions to take our minds off the gloomy weather. Some highlights from Friday included an update from Judy on the battle to save Wreck Beach; a workshop on public nudity and the nature of offense by Mark Storey; a history of the Federation of Québec Naturists by FQN founder Michel Vaïs; a photo tour of several top Canadian and European naturist sites by photographer Richard West; and a recap by Stéphane Deschênes of his family's nude appearance on the popular TV show Arresting Design.
By Saturday things began to look a little brighter; the sun came out and stayed out for the better part of the rest of the weekend. The day began with the customary general assembly, where naturist organization leaders and workshop presenters introduced themselves and mentioned their presentations. Sessions not to be missed on Saturday included a beaches update, with representatives from beaches as close as Oka and as far as Haulover in Miami and Black's in San Diego; a talk on living full-time as a naturist; and a discussion of the proposed amendment to the Criminal Code that could have had serious consequences for naturist rights. (The bill died but was revived [and passed] as Bill C-2.)NQAnother topic that had festival-goers talking was the refusal by a major magazine distributor to take on the latest issue of Naturisme Québec , a story told in the last issue of GN. Ironically, Michel Vaïs said, an article in that particular issue of NQ argued that academic research does not support the notion that nudity is bad for children.
Other workshops were of a less political bent, on topics such as Esalen-style massage, life drawing, homeopathy, values in relationships, raising children as naturists, photography, and the history of nudist films. Like other Montréal clubs, CNRB is very family friendly; children were present in abundance. Fortunately, Judy had planned for this, adding a whole program of activities just for kids throughout the weekend.from pet-rock painting to giant sundae building.
Sunday's schedule was dominated by the FCN annual general meeting, so those who were not part of the FCN had the option of relaxing at the club or checking out other naturist opportunities in the surrounding area. With so many choices in the Montréal region, it was not hard to find additional clothing-free places to explore!
Adapted from an article in Nude & Natural 24:2, by kind permission of The Naturist Society.
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The Federation of Canadian Naturists (FCN) and the Fédération québécoise de naturisme (FQN) share the Canadian membership in the International Naturist Federation (INF), which has its world headquarters in Antwerp, Belgium.