When I tell people where in Canada I call home, I usually get a quizzical look, and then comes the inevitable question: “What are you doing way up there?”
Elliot Lake is six hours north of Toronto, on the edge of the boreal forest. We are surrounded by lakes and trees and it’s a good two hours’ drive before you get to either Sudbury or Sault Ste Marie, the nearest big cities.
Moving to Elliot Lake
To be honest, seven years ago when I planned to move here, I was concerned enough about the chilly climate to have stocked up on boots and clothes fit for the Arctic. And, yes, I was wary about relocatinng to a place where I knew the non-European population would be miniscule. In both respects I have been pleasantly surprised. Maybe it is the effect of global warming, but winters have been mild. My fellow residents, many of whom are retirees from Toronto, have often had occasion to chuckle about enjoying better weather here than in the big city they left behind. But even when we do have snow and low temperatures, it means I can put on my skis and hit the slopes, or don snowshoes, mukluks or cross-country skis to cherish the beauty of this wintry paradise.
After all, I was never able to experience such adventures while growing up in Trinidad, in the Caribbean. The human environment has proven just as welcoming. The Caribbean folk I’ve met here are few in number, so we’ve easily bonded like family. But not having a large population from my homeland has not been a drawback.
Expanding my horizons
In fact, it has allowed me to more readily discover other aspects of Canada. For instance, I’ve had the opportunity to immerse myself in the French Canadian community and pick up their language. I’ve had the privilege to meet the First Nations of the area and learn a bit of their culture and traditions. And, here, in a small town where the pace of life is slower, people can take the time to get to know and enjoy each other, whether it’s a my neighbour from the former Czechoslovakia plying me with milk and cookies and stories of her experiences during WWII, or my Italian neighbour showing off his pizzella-making skills.
I’ll admit, there are fewer jobs here than in the big cities, but there are jobs to be had. And if you are an entrepreneur, you would probably find, as I did, conditions
more favourable here for starting up a business. It might not be the most obvious choice, but who knows, “way up” here in the North might just be the place for you too.
By Celia Sankar
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