HALIFAX -- Maritimers sent a little extra love to the dads in their lives on Father’s Day. While some enjoyed the outdoors on Sunday, others wished their dad the best from a distance – providing a silver lining amid the difficulties of COVID-19.

Surprises At Northwood

At Halifax’s Northwood long-term care facility, a slew of vintage cars paraded past the building, providing joy to the fathers living there – but it was only one of many surprises.

“It's an extra special Father’s Day for me because I'm actually allowed to be in my parents’ presence,” said Caroline Morrison, the daughter of Northwood residents. “I'm age 50, and I'm very blessed to still have both of my parents."

Morrison's father agrees that the opportunity to see his daughter made the day memorable, despite having to physically distance.

“If we could have a hug and a kiss, it would be a little bit nicer – but we have to maintain our social distancing," said Morrison’s father, George Flory.

And it wasn't just family members sending their wishes to Northwood residents.

"I volunteered here for nine weeks and really enjoyed myself, and getting to know all the residents – there’s nowhere I’d rather be,” said Northwood volunteer, Jessica Richardson. “If I can't be with my own dad in P.E.I., I want to be here to wish these guys a happy Father’s Day."

Quality Time

Meanwhile, other families took advantage of comfortable summer temperatures and spent the day outside with their dads.

“Taking the dog for a walk with my two daughters,” said father, Chad Haslett of his Father’s Day activities. “We're just feeding the squirrels and walking the dog."

Amid a pandemic, fathers everywhere seem to agree that the lifestyle change COVID-19 has brought about has brought them closer to their family.

"It's been pretty great for us,” said father, Morgan Begg, who can’t travel for his job due to COVID-19 travel bans. “I go away a lot for work normally, so I've had a lot of great times with my kids over the last couple months."

Others agree.

"We've spent a lot of time at home together,” said father, Jensen McClean. “Usually, my kids are pretty heavy into hockey and spending a lot of time running around between rinks. Instead, we've played games and stuff at home – just different stuff that we wouldn’t do in the past."

Meanwhile, some dads were happy that some COVID-19 distancing measures have eased – allowing them to connect with family again.

"It's been real tough to be apart from them for the past several months,” said father, Bruce Dow. “It was so great to get back together and give them all a hug again."

“You appreciate it more when you've been apart a while," said another father, David MacDonald.

Growing Closer

There’s truth to what many fathers have been saying. In fact, a new study released by the Canadian Men's Health Foundation shows that COVID-19 has had an effect on many Canadian fathers.

"The vast majority of Canadian dads were feeling closer to their kids during this pandemic,” said Intensions Consulting managing partner, Nick Black. “We had 71 per cent feel they had more quality time with their children, and 61 per cent said they felt closer to their children as well."

Black notes those feelings could have a lasting impact.

“This could have been a moment for dads where they got to experience what they always wanted to experience as fathers – this sense of closeness and connection with their kids,” said Black. “I think a lot are considering whether they actually want to go back to the way it was before."

Another interesting finding from the study is the effect of family dinners. Sixty-four per cent of Canadian fathers say they have been eating meals with their children more often, and 49 per cent have been preparing household meals. Black says research shows that children who eat meals with their parents have been shown to have better grades, mental health, and less issues with addiction later in life.

Family Focus

Meanwhile, dads like Haslett say they’re thankful for the renewed sense of togetherness that current circumstances have brought along – especially on Father’s Day.

"It just brings you closer together and gives you an aspect of how important family is and spending family time – that's what really matters," said Haslett.