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It’s been a banner year for flag-flying Sarnia woman

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Troy Shantz

Almost every weekday, Sarnia’s Lucienne de Vries flies a different flag from a flagpole in her front yard, and it’s become a neighbourhood head-turner.

Families, joggers and dog-walkers stop often in front of the McCrie Street home to see what’s up that day, said daughter Helene Renwick

“It’s amazing the number of people that walk by and say, “Oh we love the flags, (including) a lot of little kids,” said Renwick.

“It’s a small thing, but it brings the community together.”

de Vries, 80, selects the flags from a large collection started by her late husband Luke. She began displaying them after he died in 2015.

“I thought, well, it’s better to have them out there then have them in the closet,” she said.

Sometimes her daily choice is random; sometimes it reflects world events.

The flag of Nova Scotia flew following the tragic mass shooting in April, and Lebanon went up after the Aug. 4 explosion in Beirut.

The lone star of Texas waved to honour the U.S. state after it was battered by Hurricane Laura on Aug. 27.

Most weekends, the Canadian Maple Leaf greets passersby. But during World Cup soccer tournaments de Vries and her late husband proudly displayed their native Netherlands flag.

The collection includes a Pride flag. And on June 21, which is National Indigenous Peoples Day, de Vries flies the flag of the Aamjiwnaang First Nation flag, which features a red and white teepee on a blue shield.

Lucienne de Vries raises the state flag of Texas at her Sarnia home.
Troy Shantz

Since the COVID lockdown began more and more people out for a walk have stopped at the house to admire the colours waving that day. At her daughter‘s suggestion, they added a sign out front identifying the “Flag of the Day.”

Several thank-you cards recently arrived in the mailbox, and a large French flag was anonymously dropped off.

Checking to see what’s flying that day is a family tradition for neighbours Derek and Kathleen MacDonald.

“We love it,” said Kathleen MacDonald, who pointed out the Texas flag to daughter Eleanor, 2, during a family walk last week.

De Vries changes the flag each morning at first light and lowers it again to bring in every evening.

“I think it makes it more friendly in the neighbourhood,” she said.



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