Main Street Ontario

Small Towns: You’re So Nice, But You’re Not For Me

As I type this, I’m sitting on the front step of a local church in a quiet North Bay, Ontario neighbourhood, waiting for a ride. I’ve just completed adjudicating at my third music festival this month. Between performing, presenting workshops and adjudicating, I’m quite fortunate to get a chance to visit many cities, especially smaller communities. This month alone, I’ve had a chance to visit Cornwall and Owen Sound, along with North Bay.

Visiting smaller towns, it makes me realize how there are so many similarities to my home base of Toronto, yet it’s so different. Every time I visit an Ontario community, I hear the same story. The main employer has left town and the kids are leaving right behind them. The biggest employer is the hospital, jail or the government.

But the air is so much fresher and the only noise you hear, mostly, is the birds chirping.

That’s except for the constant barrage of cars. It seems like everyone in a small town drives. There’s no walking or transit culture. And there are tonnes of big box stores. Is this because small towns aspire to be like a big city and they need a Tim Hortons and Home Depot to feel that way? Where’s Joe’s Butcher and Mabel’s Hardware store on Main Street?

That being said, there’s something nice about visiting a small town. Strangers are way more outgoing than in the big city. I’ve lived in the Big Smoke for so long and I’ve gotten so jaded, the friendliness can actually make me feel uncomfortable. But that’s more of my problem since I’m the classic introvert-extrovert.

So small town, I shall visit you again. I shall bath in the warmth of your hospitality, but I shall not stay to bask in your comfort zone. I shall always be a big city boy. I shall be the one who doesn’t say hello or make eye contact as I walk by you. I shall be the one who is in a rush just because I can be. Nothing personal, small town – I still love you, but you’re not home.

4 Responses to “Small Towns: You’re So Nice, But You’re Not For Me”

  1. Linda Hawkins April 30, 2016 at 10:44 am #

    Why bother to visit a small town? You have missed the essence of these ” communities” and no amount of discourse will change your mind. Stay in the big smoke and leave us alone. The things we have to give and share are of no value to those can’t understand. BTW sorry you missed our non Tim Horton’s coffee shops, Artists Co Op, parks, Niagara escarpment and the Bruce Trail that encircles our fair city. Now there is real walking for you. Oh and yes our 5 min traffic jam at 5 pm…last time I visited Toronto I did see a rather large number of cars and will look forward to my next visit now that everyone will be taking the bus!

    • Lisa Horvat April 30, 2016 at 11:13 am #

      Why would you bother visiting Toronto? Every place has something to offer. We’ve been to Owen Sound before just to hike the Bruce Trail, we also regularly hike it around Toronto too. I don’t drive and almost always take the bus and we currently have our car up for sale because a) Toronto has ok public transportation so it allows us that luxury b) it has many very walkable streets c) we live in a great community in TO by shops, great neighbours and nature d) and most importantly, we believe in getting the most out of life and car ownership isn’t something that aids in that goal.

      I understand your reaction because you probably deal with this kind of thing a lot but Frank actually didn’t express why he likes Toronto more so you can’t assume it is for the reason you think and you can’t assume that he wouldn’t understand the essence of smaller communities… do you know how long he’s been in Toronto? Where he lived prior to that? If you understood that you might not have reacted this way and made a kind reply to your point of view that would be helpful to others… We need to help everyone understand if there is a better way of living because I feel too many of us are in lives we don’t want to be in but don’t know how to get out. We should all strive to be honest in life with ourselves and with others, this should lead to being nice towards our fellow human. I am sorry if this post put a damper on your day, as I know that wasn’t the intention as life is too short for those types of things.

      • Linda Hawkins April 30, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

        Hi Lisa, no worries I’m having a great day.The sun is shining and I am enjoying Georgian Bay vistas and my back yard access to the Bruce Trail. I love my town, and it sounds like you are very happy in Toronto so we are both content.

        • Lisa Horvat April 30, 2016 at 1:35 pm #

          That’s awesome Linda!

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