winter sunrise out my window

Bittersweet Transition: Why I will miss Huron County

shores of an Ontario lake

My time as a resident of Huron County is rapidly ticking away: only four  sleeps left!

As excited as I am to move in with Johnathan and have our own place together with out own backyard and laundry room, and as much as I anticipate being able to regularly visit specialty grocery stores and discover new restaurants and take the bus or a bike instead of my car, I will miss rural life.

a backyard party
A backyard party with lots of yard... and a tent trailer

There are many aspects of life in Huron County that make this transition bittersweet. First, there’s that sense of community that is only possible in small towns and rural areas. I’m talking about when you can count on knowing a percentage of every group and gathering, or on running into someone you know in every store and on every street.

Then there are the small stores where you know the owner and at least a part of their personal story and they recognize you and maybe know your name.

Out of the Storm
After last August's tornado, Goderich held a fundraiser concert called Out of the Storm. It took up half the downtown square, and everyone we knew was there!

Small-town events are the highlight of each season, like Goderich’s Winterfest or Clinton’s Pluckinfest or annual beer tents and parades. That’s not to mention the stag and does/buck and does/Jack and Jills that happen every weekend from April through Thanksgiving in every town, and where you can expect to meet up with friends new and old and be greeted with the same selection of cheap domestic beer and plastic cups with shots of vodka, rye, and rum await ice and Coke.

I will also miss the vistas. Yep, I used the word vista. For example, I live across from a corn field. It likely sounds boring, but I love being able to look out my big dining room window and see not other houses, but corn almost as far as the eye can see, or a snowy field, with a line of evergreens at the far side of the field.

winter sunrise out my window

Who could forget the proximity to the beach? One of the very best parts about Huron County and one of the things that I missed the most when I lived in Mexico is how you can get to the beach of one of North America’s biggest lakes in less than half an hour. Huron County is Ontario’s West Coast, after all! Did you know that several of Lake Huron’s beaches have earned the Blue Flag organization’s designation of quality beaches? Yes, we’re proud, and rightly so.

What I will probably miss the most is that certain smell. It’s clean, fresh, slightly sweet, and I believe it’s unique to Huron County. But I could be wrong. If you haven’t experienced it, you won’t know what you’re missing. Having been raised on it, that smell is home to me. Nothing about having my own house in the city could replace that scent.

Luckily, Huron County is only a relatively short drive away, and I have plenty of reasons to visit.

Flo on a rainy road
My '52 Chevy, Flo, on a rainy country road
goderich hockeyville 2012

Why I’m Conflicted about Goderich’s bid for Hockeyville 2012

goderich hockeyville 2012

*Note: Since posting this (quick personal opinion) blog, this article about the state of affairs at Goderich’s Memorial Arena, which is run by the Maitland Recreation Centre (hence why Maitland is listed as the arena on the bid) was brought to my attention. I admit I was not aware of all of the issues at the arena, nor that the “old arena” would be receiving the money if Goderich wins. That clears up a couple of my concerns. Thank you, Goderich Hockeyville people, for correcting me.

As I say in my comment below, my main concern now is whether by winning, Goderich might prevent a more deserving community with an arena in even worse shape from getting necessary repairs. I tried to find out the condition of the arenas of other contenders, but wasn’t able to before getting this post out. I would welcome any information you could share. If it becomes clear that Goderich’s Memorial Arena is in a state that is comparable to, or worse off, than the other communities vying for this money, I would get behind this thing 150%.

Again: this is my opinion! Controversial thoughts are important… they help keep people honest and communities healthy. Please don’t take this the wrong way!

~~~

Normally, I am a community promoter. You should be able to tell that from my Locality series. I think that not enough people are excited about some of the great things in their own backyards.

I’m conflicted, however, about voting for my hometown to be Hockeyville* 2012.

What is Hockeyville? Here’s what the official rules have to say:

ARE YOU KRAFT HOCKEYVILLE 2012?

From a downtown community neighbourhood rink in Vancouver to a small community in New Brunswick, hockey communities exist all over this country, but which one has what it takes to be the best? Kraft Hockeyville 2012 (the   “Competition”),   presented by   Kraft   Canada Inc., the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, NHL Enterprises Canada, L.P., and the National Hockey League Players’   Association   (collectively,   the   “Sponsors”),   is   the   unique   and   exciting competition designed to find out which Canadian community stands above all the others. The Competition  will  seek  out  the  community  that  best  exemplifies Canada’s  spirit.  It’s  the  ultimate Canadian Competition!

The  winning  community  (the  “Grand  Prize  Winning  Community”)  will  win  the  experience  of  a lifetime, including:
● “Kraft  Hockeyville  2012”  title  and  trophy
● The opportunity to host an NHL® pre-season  hockey  game  (the  “Game”)
● $100,000 to be used for upgrades to the Home Arena that the winning Entrant nominates (as such terms are defined below)

In addition, the Grand Prize Winning Community will be featured on a CBC television broadcast related to the Game in the fall of 2012, at a date to be determined by the Sponsors in their sole discretion.

On Saturday night, after Hockey Night in Canada, my hometown of Goderich, Ontario was named one of 15 communities in the running for 2012’s Hockeyville title, which comes with all the advantages mentioned above.

Here are the things that I think are great about this competition:

  • It is building community spirit in a town that was recently struck a few blows with the loss of a couple of big employers, and August’s F3 tornado, which damaged much of our downtown core, resulted in 25 houses (this number is one that I haven’t been able to either substantiate or disprove. Perhaps I should walk around town and count.) being written off, and damaged many others.
  • Hosting an NHL pre-season game will introduce more people to a town that I think is pretty great, and further unite the people of the community that actually care about it

I am concerned about some other aspects, though.

What about the people of Goderich that still don’t have houses?

What about other Canadian communities that don’t have two functioning arenas, one of which was built within the last ten years?

Does our newest arena (the one that is nominated in the competition) really need $100,000 worth of upgrades? It’s not even 10 years old!

Are we using the whole “our town had a tornado” card as a sympathy bid? Is it appropriate if we are? There are communities in Canada that don’t have enough houses for their people, let alone two functioning arenas! (think Attawapiskat, for one)

While I do believe that some of the people of Goderich could use help getting their houses and lives back after the tornado, I have a hard time believing that getting money as an arena upgrade really helps the town.

I guess what I’m saying is that I am okay with Goderich winning the title of Hockeyville 2012, but I would ask whether we really are the most deserving of that $100,000. Is it fair for us to use our two arenas to bulk up our Hockeyville bid with special events when other towns may have only one functioning arena that may need some serious repair?

I have not done extensive research on the other 14 communities, so I don’t know what their needs are, but I would love to see Goderich named Hockeyville 2012, then donate the $100,000 to a community that is worse off than we are. It’s probably not possible: I assume the funds are specifically allocated to be used for the winning arena.

But wouldn’t that be fantastic? Wouldn’t that make you even prouder of Goderich?

As it stands, I am not sure I can vote with a  clear conscience.

*I am purposely leaving out “Kraft”, even though it is the official title, because it doesn’t matter to me or the average Goderich-ite which giant corporation is sponsoring this contest, and they don’t need the little guy to help their business by mentioning their brand.

A Wee Subversion

Yesterday, while driving around The Square in my hometown, Goderich, (which is really an octagon but we love it so much we call it by a much more prestigious-sounding shape name), I noticed an anomaly on the marquee sign for the movie theatre.

Curious, I drove around The Square to see the other side…

7:30

7:29

I love that someone was able to make me stop, look, and take pictures with this little subversion. I wonder if anyone else noticed…