The Great White North, eh?
Let’s talk about the North Country for a minute. What brings a person like my brother or cousins to places like Flin Flon, MB or Fort Mac, AB? Short answer, the money to begin with. That’s how these boom and bust communities wax and wane in the first place. It’s sad to see communities shut down when the mine peters out, the price of lumber topples, or the plug simply gets pulled on the town. I’ve seen a couple of places that used to be vibrant become ghost towns. Tahsis, BC on Vancouver Island which used to be a mill town. Church Point, which used to be a Native reserve and the inhabitants got moved into Campbell River. They just become decaying corpses with no soul when the people leave. But there are thousands of tiny little Canadian communities hanging on when the people should have left long ago. What makes men and women want to embrace this challenging part of the world? What is the indefinable pull that keeps them in the Land of snow, cold and in the summer, bugs? Even if you went back thousands of years, what kept the Native people from moving further South to what were surely better living conditions?
To answer my rhetorical questions, you could start by chatting with those lovable Newfies about that large rubber band that keeps snapping them back to the Rock. If you’ve never had the privilege to visit Newfoundland, I highly encourage every Canadian to do so. Just do it during the summer and watch out for those damn moose! Personnel anecdote here, if you go during the late fall during hunting season, those moose get pretty scarce. The rest of the time, they’ll come visiting up onto your bridge (Newfie for deck). But just like Canada’s North, the Rock has a horrible climate, it’s tough to grow anything, and you’re isolated from the rest of civilization let alone the rest of Canada. Plus, if you stay long enough, you develop a funny accent, everyone makes jokes about you, and you’ll get this overwhelming urge to play ‘Chase The Ace’!
My belief is these isolated areas allow people the chance to cultivate a spirituality and connection to the land or some may say, Mother Nature. It’s definitely a love/hate relationship. You either love the cold and get out on your sled to check the trapline or you cocoon and just throw a few more logs on the fire. You build a backyard rink, skate until your feet freeze, warm up and stupidly head out for a few more laps. You pit yourself against Mother Nature and learn in a hurry that she’s boss and will not hesitate to kick your ass. But, if you’re respectful of her power, she’ll tolerate you and let you live another day.
Northern Canada is hard living. But it’s good, honest living for those people who embrace and thrive under some of the most challenging conditions on the planet.
Blair is a personification of a ‘Jack of All Trades and Master of None’. He has held several careers and has all the T-shirts. Time to add the title Blogger to the list.