Green Wizardries: Pancakes as Social Glue


Eating together and working together are the two most potent ways I know to create community.  The Denman Island Fire Department’s Annual Pancake Breakfast on 30 June was a great success as they had the whole Fire Department out there working together to provide a meal for hundreds or more.  This was a great logistical exercise and the experience the Fire Department members acquire will help any of them if they ever need to set up a refugee camp.  

I hear you say, “When are we ever going to need a refugee camp here?”  Well, we have been terribly lucky for a great many years but it only takes some hot, dry weather, a bit of wind and a carelessly-dropped cigarette and a great deal of the island could go up in flames, including a lot of dwellings.  Then, we will need some sort of a camp for the displaced people.  I too hope this does not happen, but it could.

I went up to the event about half-past ten and was surprised to see no line-up worth mentioning.  I think a lot of people try to get there early to avoid the crowds and huge line ups. The first people I met coming away from the breakfast were two ladies and a small boy.  The younger lady grew up here as a little kid and has fond memories of the Pancake Breakfast.  She was delighted to be able to bring her little child to experience it. She laughed and said, “They must have a test for everyone who joins the Fire Department to make sure they can all make pancakes before they are accepted.”  I asked how she liked the pancakes and she pronounced them, “Delicious.”

Next, I caught Sam Croome, showing off the Fire Rescue vehicles. I asked him what he liked most about the Fire Department and he replied, “Bacon!”  What really keeps him serving in the Fire Department is the continuing education they offer. Sam feels that learning different things keeps the brain from atrophy.

The next person I interviewed was Darius the carpenter.  This is only his second pancake breakfast as he moved here, had one pancake breakfast and then Covid 19 hit and that was the end of social gatherings for a while. I asked him if he was interested in joining the Fire Department and he said he would love to join but his wife wouldn’t like it as they have small children.  He feels serving in the department would mean too much time away from home.  “When my kids are a bit bigger, then, I might join.”

I spoke with Kasian Russel, a valuable young man, what he most liked about his service in the Fire Department.  “The experiences and the people.  It is a lot of fun.  I get to learn a lot and work in the community.”  Kasian will soon be seventeen and has already finished the First Responder course except for the final exam.  He plans to do all the training he can with the Fire Department as a means of self and community improvement.  

I chatted with Helen Wilson and she finds the Fire Department to have a lovely community spirit.  “When push comes to shove, they are excellent about what they do.  The get the job done and work hard on professional development.”  Helen also appreciated the line up for pancakes being in the shade this year.

Erika Bland said she likes all the smiling faces at the Pancake Breakfast and she shared with me her appreciation for the generosity of the Fire Department.  If they raise more funds than they need, they share the surplus with other community groups.

Scot MacDonald was there, looking very dapper in his uniform tee-shirt and kilt.  Scot is a retired soldier and what he likes best about the department is the sense of family and the really good training. 

Everyone seems to rave about the training at the Fire Department which must be a great satisfaction to Jamie Prowse who is the Training Officer.  

By this time, I was at the picnic tables which were full of happy people tucking into pancakes.  I asked a couple of ladies what they thought of the breakfast and they said, “Very good!  Fantastic.  They love it that we have a Fire Department here on the Island and found the Fire Department members both friendly and efficient.  

I talked to another local lady who said she thought this year’s event was even better than last year’s event.  “They didn’t run out of bacon and  they seemed even more efficient than last year.”  

In 2023, despite heroic efforts of the part of the Firefighters, they were not able to serve the promised gluten-free pancakes.  This year, they got ahead of that issue by buying a new grill specifically for gluten-free pancakes.  They also use it to cook the vegan meat which I hope is gluten-free too.  

I would call this year’s Pancake Breakfast, an unqualified success.  


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