HUNTSVILLE, Ontario (Reuters) - In a “designated protest zone” in a field outside Huntsville, Ontario, a lone demonstrator waited hopefully for action on Thursday as the tiny town prepared for its moment on the international stage.
There was nothing else in the field outside the sleepy lakeside community except rows of portable toilets, a parking area for buses and a small group of police writing down names of journalists who stopped by for pictures.
The ritzy Deerhurst resort, just outside Huntsville, is the site of the G8 summit on Friday and Saturday, when the leaders of the world’s most powerful countries gather in seclusion to mull the world’s problems.
In the heart of the bucolic Muskoka lake district two hours north of Toronto, where the city’s elite have their weekend homes, this is not a place that is used to demonstrators. But they are being politely, if cautiously, catered for.
Dick Averns, the lone protester, found the remote designated demonstrating zone disappointing. “It’s designed to make it difficult for people to speak out,” he said.
He said his banner, “Ambivalence Blvd”, was a comment on the lack of freedom of access at such international meetings.
Journalists looking to visit the media center set up for the G8 summit there need to take a 3 a.m. shuttle from Toronto.
In Huntsville, police turned back a group of canoeists trying to get to Deerhurst by water to protest against the summit and the Group of 20 industrialized and developing nations taking place in Toronto after the G8 summit ends.
Earlier in the day another group had marched through town, showcasing the papier mache leaders’ heads that typically make appearances at such events.
Apart from that, there have been few signs of protests, although more activity is expected when the G8 officially begins Friday.
Locals say the G8 preparations have put a bit of a chill into what would normally be the middle of the summer vacation season, but most didn’t mind the inconvenience.
“I‘m here protesting the lack of protesters,” joked Jim McDonnell, a local senior and year-round Huntsville resident, as he watched cars crawl down the town’s main street.
“We find it kind of exciting.”
Wayne Baker, a barber at “Hair‘n There” on Huntsville’s Main Street, was also focused on the silver lining of the event. “Business has been good,” he said. “It’s been mostly cops and security people.”
Editing by Janet Guttsman and David Storey